The Co-operative Bank, under the leadership of the apparently less-than-divine Methodist minister the Reverend Paul Flowers, was of course supposed to buy TSB (then known as Project Verde). However, when the scale of its financial shortcomings under Flowers unfolded, the sale was quickly aborted. The "story" of Flowers – who breathtakingly was also a moral guardian (or political placeman, depending on your point of view) as a former member of the Advertising Standards Authority – is one that his Scottish Presbyterian antecedent would surely find incomprehensible.
Away from the astonishing morality or otherwise of Flowers’ behaviour, in advertising’s own parochial way, the failed deal has resulted in Joint’s role being expanded.
Originally hired for the consumer launch of the TSB brand, the agency will now also be responsible for an expected IPO at some point early next year. Flowers’ rent boy, expenses and drugs scandal has inadvertently provided a surprising and hefty boost to the nascent agency’s billings – so every cloud, eh?
For Leo Burnett, which handles the rest of The Co-operative Group’s advertising account, the failed deal is not only an opportunity that has now passed it by but also a communications problem in dealing with its aftermath.
The Flowers scandal has provided a surprising and hefty boost to Joint's billings - so every cloud, eh?
Just earlier this month, Burnett launched its first work post-Co-operative Bank rescue but pre-drugs scandal. Designed to reassure customers that, despite no longer being majority-owned by The Co-operative Group, the bank still upheld its high ethical code, it now looks rather laughable. Good luck, then, to the planners who have to try to work their way out of this particular mess – whatever fee the agency manages to extricate from the group, they will definitely have earned it. Burnett has also created beautiful and moving work for The Co-operative Funeralcare, but the damage to the masterbrand has yet to be fully established.
And so back to Joint. Expectations of this start-up were particularly high and, having now successfully launched TSB and with attractive campaigns for BHS and Google now under its belt, the shop has more than answered those who have sniped throughout the year that it has "been quiet".
Joint’s industry would therefore appeal to the Reverend Duncan – even if a psychostimulant-laced version of its name might attract the attention of the Reverend Flowers.