EDITORIAL: Nestle and Adidas had to reorganise

What conclusions are to be drawn from the news that two of the

world's most famous brands, Nestle and Adidas, are overhauling their

global ad arrangements?

For Nestle, it's a case of simplifying and better co-ordinating the

activities of its five global networks.

Adidas, meanwhile, is eager to get a global network on board to bring

greater cohesion to its message. Both companies insist their aim is for

better, rather than cheaper, advertising. And, while there's no good

reason to doubt their intentions, Nestle, Adidas and their global peers

have never been under greater pressure to be leaner and fitter and keep

an eye on every penny spent.

Nor has there ever been such an overwhelming need for them to

sensitively and consistently convey what they stand for in a world where

cultures are polarising, but where the backlash against brands grows

ever stronger. The fundamental cost structures must be right.

Agency networks bridle at any rationalisation by big clients, believing

that it rarely works to their advantage. Certainly, the Adidas lead

creative agencies, Leagas Delaney and Amsterdam's 180, will worry that

working with an international network is tantamount to a cuckoo into the

nest. Given the creative track records of both agencies, any fears are

probably groundless and insignificant beside the overwhelming need for

Adidas to achieve greater international coherence.

For all the talk that what Nestle and Adidas are doing isn't about

cost-saving, their actions reflect the widespread concern among clients.

Never has the bottom line been more important, with a consumer-based

recession on the horizon and brands increasingly seen as the symbols of

malevolent corporate globalism.

This creates profound problems for multinationals, but also for

advertising in general, which may come under renewed attack for imposing

uniform tastes, undermining dietary health and creating social


Agencies will have to swallow some unpalatable medicine. As James Best,

the BMP DDB group chairman, told an International Advertising

Association gathering: "If clients can reduce marketing expenditure

without any apparent reduced performance from their brands, then they

will and they are right to."

Prolonged ad silences may become the norm and brands could become

irreparably damaged without their owners noticing. Nestle and Adidas,

with their long commitment to advertising, will not fall into this trap.

Others, though, may deceive themselves that they can do without

advertising and it's under their windows that the ad industry must bang

its drum most loudly.

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