McCann-Erickson has ended its barren new-business spell in
spectacular fashion by scooping Esso’s pounds 12 million full-service UK
The agency heard this week that it had beaten the odds by being awarded
the business - in tandem with its media dependant, Universal McCann -
ahead of Leo Burnett, Ammirati Puris Lintas and Bartle Bogle
The decision reunites the McCanns agency in London with a client it
handled for 63 years until J. Walter Thompson won it in 1991.
David Warden, the chairman of McCanns, and Ben Langdon, his managing
director, are understood to have been under heavy pressure from network
chiefs to win back the Esso UK account which JWT resigned when it was
appointed the sole European agency for Shell (Campaign, 17 January).
McCanns has a huge emotional attachment to Esso, which was its first
account when it set up in 1911, and which it handles in almost every
country around the world apart from a few South American markets.
Senior Esso managers in the UK are believed to have been initially
unenthusiastic about renewing the relationship. Warden commented: ’It is
common knowledge that we had some historical baggage to shed from last
time and we didn’t go into the pitch as the favourite.’
The win will be a huge boost to Langdon, who has provoked much
controversy through his radical restructuring of the agency since his
arrival last summer. He led the pitch with Trista Grant, the managing
director of Universal McCann, alongside him.
Warden said: ’We had a very clear long-term strategy to present to
The win comes at a perfect time for us because it’s the first
vindication of the changes Ben and I have made at the agency.’
John Adkins, Esso’s divisional director for retail, praised the quality
and depth of all the agency presentations and added: ’The decision was
always going to be a difficult one.’
The agency’s brief is to help Esso hold its own in a ferocious petrol
war, in which the oil giants have been savaged by competition from
Esso has struck back through its Pricewatch campaign under which it
pledges to match, but not undercut, its lowest price competitors. The
result has been to keep UK pump prices among the lowest in Europe.