Ted Roose has never been one to follow the advertising crowd. He
set up the offices of Roose & Partners, the agency he has run since
1977, on Gray’s Inn Road away from the bright lights of Soho, and he
eschews traditional advertising haunts such as the Ivy or Le Caprice in
favour of the Royal Yacht Club.
Sometimes his failure to conform seems positively perverse. When just
about every other agency in town was separating out its media
operations, Roose refused to do so, sticking firmly to his view that
full-service was best and that the people running the media should be in
close contact with the creatives and account handlers.
So the question on everybody’s lips when Roose & Partners announced its
tie-up with Manning Gottlieb Media last week was not ’why has he done
it?’ so much as ’why didn’t he do it before?’.
Roose concedes that the agency was the odd one out - neither he nor I
can think of another full-service agency of any substance that is still
in existence. But he says he was not under any pressure from clients to
hive off the media operation - it was very much his own decision,
supported by the clients.
’I’ve always thought it very important that media planning should stay
with account handling - often the solution to the problem comes from
media people,’ he says. ’But there has been a huge explosion in media
opportunities. It is difficult when you’re a relatively small operation
to keep pace with all that. Now we will be able to draw on the much
wider buying footprint MGM has.’
It’s very different from when Roose began his career as a buyer in
Garland-Compton’s media department. He spent ten years there, working on
a number of blue-chip clients, including Rowntree, Procter & Gamble and
United Biscuits, before moving into account handling.
But he had always wanted to go it alone, so in 1977 he left what was
then Saatchi & Saatchi Garland-Compton with three colleagues to set up
Roose & Partners.
And now, having established his creative agency, he’s starting his own
media outfit. The new division, housed within MGM’s offices, will
initially have pounds 20 million in billings and will be called Roose
Media. Its biggest client is Mitsubishi, which Roose & Partners picked
up last July. It is also taking on Nickelodeon, the toy company Vivid
Imagination and Virgin Cars, among others.
Nick Manning, a managing partner of MGM, says the agency has been set up
to service existing clients but adds that they will also be pitching
with Roose & Partners for new business. ’We can bring a lot to their
party by way of a worldwide network of media specialists,’ he says.
Implementational planning and all buying will move to Roose Media, but
strategic planning will remain at Roose & Partners - a fact Roose is
keen to stress. He says the arrangement gives clients the best of both
So what of the cultural fit? MGM is a young, entrepreneurial agency
handling sexy clients such as Apple and Nike while Roose & Partners has
a more old-guard feel, dominated by established, blue-chip companies
such as Nestle Rowntree and Benckiser.
But Roose insists that the contrast will be a positive thing. ’What I
like about MGM is that they’ve got lots of ideas as well as the buying
power of a big group. We may be a different kind of agency but that
doesn’t mean we don’t want to be whacky.’
Well, whacky may not be quite the Roose image just yet, but the agency
has certainly undergone something of a renaissance in recent years.
After a period of relative stagnation, in 1998 the agency won the
Caffrey’s account, giving it a coveted place on the Bass roster, and
last July it picked up the full-service account for Mitsubishi.
Roose has taken a bit of a back seat, allowing the agency’s two managing
partners, Ed Will and Angus Fear, to handle the day-to-day running of
clients’ business while he concentrates on the agency as a whole.
’My role has changed dramatically,’ Roose says. But the change appears
to have done him and the agency good.