Jeremy Lee on the demise of kinder, gentler and nicer times

Jeremy Lee on the demise of kinder, gentler and nicer times

It's been a sad couple of weeks, but it's Clean Bandit I probably feel most sorry for.

After seemingly countless years picking up royalty cheques from Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R for the use of one of its tunes in endless M&S food ads, Clean Bandit, the public school educated Cambridge-based band, will have to find an alternative revenue stream to fund their electronic classical indulgence. As for RKCR/Y&R, maybe if it had moved the campaign on just a tiny bit then it might not have found itself in the situation where its future in its current form looks uncertain.

Sympathy is also perhaps due to Ben Kay, the former chief executive of the agency, who appeared to be made the fall guy where RKCR/Y&R lost Lloyds Bank to Adam & Eve/DDB. If by appointing a new chief executive the agency thought it would start afresh, then it looks it was wrong. Some action – either creatively or on the new business front – is needed fast if it is to prove its naysayers wrong. Especially if those rumours that it might suffer the ultimate indignity of being merged into its sister direct marketing agency Wunderman has any foundation, as some suggest. That really would be a humiliation.

There was also sad news for nostalgic types like me with the departure of the genial Jamie Elliott from MullenLowe London, the agency that in happier times was once known as Delaney Lund Knox Warren and of which he was a long-standing member.

While not exactly trailblazing, DLKW was one of those agencies that carved itself a successful enough niche largely based on the personalities of – and personal chemistry between – its founding members. Creatively, it probably achieved most fame as the go-to jingle agency and for Howard from the Halifax, but most of all it was the decency and – unfashionable as it may seem in ruthless times – and, yes, niceness of the people who worked there that really marked it out.

With Lund long since gone, Delaney doing his own thing and Warren walking earlier in the summer, Knox remains as one of the few old school originals and his time is occupied spreading his own brand of thoughtful goodness at the IPA. Quite how long he’ll stay on at MullenLowe after that we’ll have to wait and see – it’s likely to depend on how he navigates the concept of dotted reporting lines with the new group chief executive Dale Gall, a combative sort who appears the antitheses of the clubbable old DLKW partners.

For MullenLowe, maybe Gall will provide the kick in the ribs that its global chief executive Alex Leikikh thinks will help the London office get its integrated shtick sorted out and help emulate the success of its lauded Boston sister agency. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t – but those kinder, gentler and nicer edges the agency once gave the industry will be missed much more than the opening bars to Rather Be.