David Abbott is a natural choice for any pool of spokespeople into
which broadcasters and journalists could tap for informed and articulate
comment on advertising issues.
The quiet authority of the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO chairman doesn’t
make him the sort the tabloids will turn to for a soundbite. His
strength comes from a belief that advertising is an honourable
occupation. AMV’s success is proof of client’s respect for such views
when powerfully put.
Now the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising wants to extend the
rapport between agency chiefs and their clients to the public stage
through a panel of media-friendly industry experts. It’s a welcome move.
There have already been too many incidents of embarrassment when the
industry has been asked to justify itself to the media. Patronising
performances by the likes of Peter Marsh on Radio 4’s the Moral Maze
last year. serve only to trigger memories among older clients of agency
dinosaurs who used to land in the factory car park by helicopter to take
Putting a stop to gaffes like that is something the IPA’s soon-to-be
appointed PR agency will have to confront. More client company heads
come from financial rather than marketing backgrounds. They’re
suspicious of agencies selling intangible products and convinced that
the industry has an over-inflated opinion of its effectiveness.
However, it will never be enough for the industry to talk a good
Actions speak louder than words and reports of shops forced to sack half
their staff to stave off financial ruin tell clients more than any
glossily-presented PR could.
Discomfort is preferable to disregard
If there’s ever a time Campaign journos would like to bring forward the
annual staff holiday to the Galapagos Islands, it’s the week our Top 300
Agencies report appears. There are few calls congratulating us on our
perception and sagacity. Usually callers bitch about their agency’s
But a word of comfort for those to whom we were less than
Sorry we had to mention those account losses and the creative director
coll-ecting his P45. It’s better than being ignored. Nothing in the ad
business could be worse than that.