Media: A Moment with Marquis

The agency I admire most is Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Together with a handful of others, it has long been on my "if I were a client, which would my agency be?" shortlist. Not just for its enviably loyal advertisers or the many campaigns that haunt the mind and touch the heart, nor even for its blistering record in effectiveness awards, but for the thoughtfulness and decency of its people, for its rock-solid integrity.

Thus, when I read that Kevin Brown was to rejoin the agency's ranks as its media champion, my reaction was: "How typical, how smart - how BBH."

If you sense that, having applauded the agency and Brown's move, I am about to deliver it a vicious blow to the back of the neck, you are wrong.

My respect for all concerned makes it impossible to bet against its success and anyway, it would be indescribably naff to rubbish something so carefully conceived.

I will say this, however. Kevin Brown must be careful how he hands down his "engagement strategies" to media agencies. I'm sure he will, because this is now indisputably their turf too. I won't go over the changes of the past 20 years or so - they are familiar to us all - but media agencies have taken their planning upstream, do talk about engagement with consumers, are docking alongside the account planning function. Not all of them, all of the time, perhaps, but this stuff is their stuff too. And, by the way, I mean not just the Nakeds, Nylons, Rises and Michaelides & Bednashes of this world, I also mean the MindShares, Carats, MediaComs and ZenithOptimedias too. They all do it. How well they do it depends on the individuals and the clients as well as their processes and practices, but every one of the top-ten media agencies speaks the language of engagement.

I'm certain that what Kevin Brown does at BBH will be of the highest order, but I will need to be convinced that it is a new grail.

And so there remains an outstanding issue. When O2 was awarded the most recent IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix the (then) media agency got no credit for the success: an oversight and discourtesy at the very least. But let me tell you there are, as we speak, countless media award papers around town that crow about their contributions to marketing effectiveness - with not a mention of the creative agencies!

We surely need - for our clients' sake and for the health of the agency sector as a whole - to concentrate less on the "who does what" and more on the "what" itself.


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