EDITORIAL: Sound decision as Guinness hires two

If a week is a long time in politics, in advertising it can be an eternity. You want proof? Just ask Jon Potter, the Guinness global brands director.

If a week is a long time in politics, in advertising it can be an eternity. You want proof? Just ask Jon Potter, the Guinness global brands director.

This is Potter quoted in his company's press release issued all of six weeks ago announcing its decision to consolidate global advertising for its flagship brand: 'Moving to a single global agency will allow us to develop new and ground-breaking advertising in all our markets, not simply in two or three.'

This is the same Potter - after apparently having undergone a conversion of Pauline proportions - in Guinness's official announcement last week of its decision to divide the worldwide spoils between Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi: 'This dual appointment is the right solution for driving consumer-led growth on a brand that has the geographic and format make-up of Guinness.'

The uncharitable view of these comments is that Guinness has no clear idea of what it wants. A kinder interpretation is that it has used the pitch process to take stock of its global advertising requirements and has shown flexibility and pragmatism to realise them.

If the latter is the case, then it's clear that Guinness was unable to pick a network capable of putting ticks against all three of its assessment criteria.

AMV, weak in the African market which accounts for a huge slug of Guinness sales, would certainly not have been able to fulfil the company's requirement for a global network complementing its priority markets. At the same time, Saatchis' record in exportable creativity - another Guinness demand - is questionable.

Not only that, but Guinness has clearly found that differences between the way the brand is perceived in its major markets are too wide for one network to reconcile.

For both appointees, the challenges are formidable. Saatchis must prove itself capable of transferring its success in Africa - where Guinness's appeal is to the mass market - to Asia, where it has premium product status.

For AMV, the task is to ensure that its extended remit to handle the brand not only in the UK but also the rest of Europe and the US doesn't prove to be a poisoned chalice. Critics of its UK work claim it doesn't work as hard in boosting sales as it does brand awareness. Now it must shift barrels as well as knock out awards juries.



Topics