There were three main (and increasingly slurry) talking points over the red wine at last week’s party to mark 30 years of Campaign’s sister title Media Week.
The first was a sorry mea culpa from media agencies and media owners who failed to give the Media Week brand enough support (in subs, revenue and advertising) to sustain a print product. It seems like a quaint regret given the fiercely innovative digital world in which we all work and the sustained success of Media Week as a digital and live brand. But seeing Media Week back in print for its anniversary issue sparked a wave of nostalgia that carried with it an acknowledgement that we’re all poorer for not having that physical showcase.
The second was the swift but brutal decision to whip the £90 million Tesco business from its 24-year incumbent, Initiative, and hand it to MediaCom. The future for Initiative and its sister shop UM as separate agencies immediately fell under scrutiny. It’s more fibre for the MediaCom muscle and good to see that, even when you’re as big as they are, a meaty win can still elicit tears of joy.
The third was the shock decision by Mindshare’s chief executive, Mark Creighton, to jump ship to become number two at Dentsu Aegis Network UK, taking on the new role of chief operating officer and reporting to the formidable Tracy De Groose. There are several notable things about Creighton’s decision. First, it’s rare for anyone outside the media enclave to take much interest in this sort of move, but people from across the wider industry have expressed surprise in Creighton’s leap. At a time of convergence, when smart, hungry, young talent is thin on the ground, someone like Creighton is firmly on the radar of ambitious companies in the marcoms space.
When smart, young talent is thin on the ground, someone like Creighton is firmly on the radar of ambitious companies
It’s also interesting that Creighton is joining a group that has so far failed to really capitalise on the potential of its assets. Students of advertising history won’t need reminding of the creative DNA that Dentsu acquired here and has tried – so far with modest results – to rekindle through Mcgarrybowen. At the same time, the creative spark that was once Glue has merely flickered since it was acquired by Aegis and became Isobar.
Nevertheless, put all this unfulfilled creative aspiration together with Dentsu Aegis’ media muscle and I think there’s potentially something powerful and challenging there. The group certainly needs a more impressive creative offer. But if De Groose and Creighton can streamline their messy collection of creative and media brands under a more coherent, converged offering, it could emerge as a new-model grouping that leaps ahead of more disjointed rivals. And the Asian giant just might change the shape of the UK market.