EUROPEAN AGENCIES: Creating an impression

Karen Yates profiles three new agencies attracting attention in London, Paris and Hamburg.

CLEMMOW HORNBY INGE: from dreamers to winners

Ask Clemmow Hornby Inge why they've been so successful in their first year and you'll meet with an uncharacteristic silence.

A year ago they were, together, a trio of - admittedly seasoned - dreamers hunched in a flat above a Carphone Warehouse shop in the Marylebone Road. Now the agency's 41 staff inhabit two floors in Soho, while their client list ranges from Tango to Safeway.

Between them, they've certainly clocked up some experience. Simon Clemmow's launch of Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson and his subsequent rise through TBWA has been well documented, while the then Lowe Lintas under the creative stewardship of Charles Inge produced some of its most talked-about work. Even Johnny Hornby used to run Honda across Europe for CDP, and last year steered the Labour Party's re-election campaign.

Perhaps preparation was the key to their success. Their first two clients, the Carphone Warehouse and Liverpool Victoria, had, for example, been persuaded to pay for their advertising in advance - a tip Clemmow and Hornby picked up from Rupert Howell. Or perhaps it was their power to convert walk-ins into business. Chef Lloyd Grossman, for example, was so impressed by CHI's winning pitch for English Heritage that he asked the agency to look at his range of food. In turn, Premier Foods, which manufactures the range, was so impressed that it asked the agency to pitch for Typhoo - which it won. And so the story goes on ...

LE SINGE: life in the laboratory

One of the saddest things about France, at least according to ex-Wieden & Kennedy creatives Olivier Courtemanche and Ghislain de Villoutreys, is that, although Paris is a world leader in fashion, art, cinema and even music, it doesn't come close to London or Amsterdam in terms of the quality of its advertising.

Courtemanche and de Villoutreys think they have a way to solve the problem: set up an agency based on expertise built up outside France, and then try to make it work at home.

The idea came to them when they returned to Paris after a long stint abroad at Wieden & Kennedy. What they found was a vibrant and creative city that produced lacklustre and formulaic advertising.

So, using old friends at the well-respected BETC Euro RSCG agency, and the promise of work from former client Nike, they put together a proposal. BETC would front some cash and offer its backroom services to a small hot agency, a so-called "laboratory".

The new agency, called Le Singe, or "The Monkey", would be creatively focused and staffed entirely by people with a truly international mindset.

Strategic planner Filippo dell'Osso explains: "Most laboratories are staffed by people from the original agency - branches cut off the old tree. But since we all have international experience, each one of us brings our own culture." Dell'Osso, an Italian, is a case in point, since he will work in France, having spent most of his working life in the UK and the US.

Now with nine people, Le Singe has produced work for Sharp and PlayStation as well as French work for its initial client, Nike.

WEIGERTPIROUZWOLF: challenging the goliaths

Four years ago, Germany was a prosperous and comfortable place. Nobody had any idea just how deep the recession would later bite. Agencies such as Jung von Matt, Springer & Jacoby and Scholz & Friends had done all the hard work of putting Germany on the creative map at last. It now seemed that the time was right to sit back and reap the rewards.

Award-winning copywriter Michael Weigert, and his creative partner, Ewald Wolf, however, decided not to rest on their laurels. They joined forces with another inmate of Scholz, account man Bagher Pirouz, to go it alone.

This may not sound like such a brave step to start-up-hardened Londoners, but in risk-averse Germany independent new ventures are rare.

Yet where Weigertpirouzwolf led, others followed. Having impressed others with its success, a rash of other young agencies has sprung up in its wake.

"The big-name agencies were a little complacent a few years ago," Weigert recalls. "If you were not Mercedes or BMW then you were a second-class client. We wanted a closer owner-to-client relationship than was possible in the larger shops."

His pack now fights for the good idea. So customers of the agency's first client, a local beer brand called Furstenberg, were treated to a catchy campaign that informed them that: "There's more to life than a washboard stomach."

Since then, other clients have joined the clan: Kraft Foods, Bayern Card Services (Lufthansa card) and, earlier this year, the Swedish furniture retailer Ikea.

Ikea was a particularly satisfying win for Weigertpirouzwolf, not only because of its size, popularity and attitude to advertising, but because it was bagged from under the noses of such notables as Jung von Matt and the Amsterdam hotshop 180.

Watch this space for what Weigertpirouzwolf will do next.

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