EDITORIAL: Big isn’t beautiful when quality is compromised

The drawing together of the D’Arcy and Leo Burnett networks is the latest seismic shift in a changed global communications landscape.

The drawing together of the D’Arcy and Leo Burnett networks is the

latest seismic shift in a changed global communications landscape.

Big is the new buzzword and consolidation the name of the game. As

client businesses converge with retailers becoming banks and

supermarkets like Wal-Mart attempt to bestride the world, so they demand

that their networks mirror their ambitions to be biggest and best.

The danger with this rush for size is that quality, effectiveness and

efficiency are left trampled in the dust.

This threat is very real. The merging of the Leo and MacManus groups is

bound to create a whiff of panic among the shrinking number of suitable

dancing partners. The inevitable result will be alliances that are

merely defensive and have nothing new or positive to offer clients.

Of course, the huddling together for mutual warmth is nothing new among

agencies. Nor is the striving to be both biggest and best which has

always been an elusive goal - just ask the Saatchi brothers. More often,

big simply means more bureaucracy.

Perceptive clients already know this. Which is why more of them are

seeking to split the creation of ideas from the implementation of


Just as they draw assurance from dealing with law firms and management

consultancies with global reputations, so they need the comfort of

knowing their agency networks have the ubiquitous presence to service

their business.

But when it comes to strategic and creative thinking, growing numbers of

multinational advertisers prefer to entrust the tasks to ’ideas

factories’ of the most talented people available, irrespective of

whether they work in their roster agencies.

Unless the new leviathans can provide both creativity and volume,

clients will treat them as delivery machines in competition with the big

media buying shops. The fact that key European markets such as Spain

import an estimated 25 per cent of creative work is compelling evidence

of the need to play the mating game with care.

Get it right and there are unparalleled opportunities to be drawn into

the heart of a client’s business. Get it wrong and the enlarged network

plays a translation and placement role, loved for its body but not its



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