Jeremy Lee
Jeremy Lee
A view from Jeremy Lee

Fire up the Engine

Goodbye and thank you, WCRS and PAA. Hello, the future.

Another week, another couple of agency brands get consigned to advertising history.

With WPP’s Mark Read announcing "radical thinking" and the results of a strategic review to be completed by December, more are bound to follow.

Peter Scott, one of the founders of WCRS, probably sums up the agency's place in the annals of advertising history quite well: "The work was always patchy – some great highs but some embarrassing lows." While he was talking of the early days of Wight Collins Rutherford Scott, the same could be said today (although the gap between the highs and the lows has narrowed).

In recent times, WCRS, on the whole, has always been a solid and safe rather than spectacular creative agency. Nonetheless, a surprisingly long roll call of advertising greats owe their careers to the shop, it has produced some real highlights in the heydays of its 39 years of existence and its place in advertising history is consequently assured.

And what of Partners Andrews Aldridge? Poor old Phil Andrews and Steve Aldridge must be feeling a bit left out, given that the tributes have tended to focus on Robin Wight, Ron Collins, Andrew Rutherford and Peter Scott. Andrews and Aldridge managed to create a distinctive agency in a sector where it’s particularly difficult to do so, and it was always a regular contender for Campaign’s Agency of the Year award. But it’s time to move on.

While Engine may not have the brand equity of its component parts (or, indeed, any brand equity), it is to the credit of the Engine management team that it realised the value of bundling all of its specialist services to clients under one roof a decade ago – long before its rivals at major networks realised that they should be doing the same. While it made for a neat story, in practice things were never quite as straightforward – cross-selling services was sometimes problematic, given that Engine was a creation of various acquisitions, each of which had management teams with conflicting earn-outs. But it was way ahead of the curve. 

With that all in the past, how exciting clients find the prospect of using Engine as a one-stop shop will be interesting to see. It would be nice to think that the consolidation under one brand will give the agency some thrust, even if it just gives us the excuse to write an "Engine is on fire" headline.

Jeremy Lee is contributing editor at Campaign