Wiser souls have pointed out our coverage of Channel 4 firing BMP4
has been a tad one-sided - ie over-sympathetic to the client, Channel
4’s director of strategy and development, David Brook.
They may have a point. I failed to present BMP4’s side of the story when
I wrote the original news piece and, in last week’s follow-up, the
losing agency - unlike the winners and Brook himself - declined to
comment. While enjoying the novelty of Campaign being criticised for
taking the client’s side, it is worth noting again how successful BMP4’s
partnership with Channel 4 was.
Of course ad agencies can create memorable and effective work for
media-owner clients, including TV stations. Channel 4’s work through
BMP4 stands out alongside GGT’s old ads for LWT, Leagas Delaney’s BBC
work, Mother’s Channel 5 launch and the current M&C Saatchi Sky
Indeed, for much of the 16-year period of its relationship with Channel
4, BMP4’s work was - arguably - the best in the sector. And no-one is
saying that it’s gone ropey overnight. At least not Brook. The use of
posters as the lead medium was innovative and successful - so much so
that the poster medium itself has used Channel 4 as an effectiveness
case study. But yesterday’s innovations can become today’s
Brook has more than three rivals to contend with in 1998 and, although
they’re not all Sky and ITV, they can stump up the money for a decent
poster campaign. BMP4’s work has become in some ways the victim of its
own success, as other TV channels copied it. Nevertheless, the reason
Brook’s comment - ’we’re an entertainment provid-er, not a can of baked
beans’- struck a chord, was that it reflected the second-most frequently
voiced comment about agencies that clients make to Campaign.
The first, without question, is ’we want greater access to creatives,
and just don’t understand why agencies continue to deny us that
The second is ’we want more speed and greater flexibility, but our
agency doesn’t listen’.
Upon further questioning, the subtext of the latter is: why does it have
to take a minimum of 12 weeks (or something similar) and why does it
have to go through ’the system’ with all its inherent layers, no matter
what the product is, no matter what the problem?
This to me is why the appointment is of wider interest. Appointing a
film promotions agency is not revolutionary, but it is an interesting
development for a mainstream, highly visible advertiser.
And, when Brook’s former employer, Channel 5, sealed the unravelling of
the virtual agency which he had put in place by appointing a traditional
agency, Walsh Trott Chick Smith (Campaign, last week), the Channel 4
appointment took on an added piquancy. Let battle commence.
Seen Mother’s Trebor ads yet? They are among the freshest commercials
(if you’ll excuse the pun) I’ve seen in a long while. Lilt, Magic FM,
Batchelors Super Noodles, Virgin.net and now Trebor constitutes a very
welcome body of new work on the British advertising scene.