Media: Perspective - Scooping Barclays proves Walker can still do the business

It was good to see that Kenneth Williams' fondness for "the Barclays" featured heavily in BBC4's Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa!, a fine adaptation of the camp actor's famous diaries.

How Barclays Bank feels about being associated with rhyming slang for masturbation remains unclear, as it happened to have more important marketing matters in hand last week. Namely the announcement that, after weeks of agonising, it had chosen Walker Media as its media agency, ending a four-year relationship with Starcom.

Walker was pushed close by PHD in the end. Some, however, felt Walker had the account in the bag from the start owing to the Barclays marketing director Jim Hytner's admiration for its chief executive, Phil Georgiadis.

This seemed like an overstatement and other pitching agencies confirm that the pitch appeared to be fair, even if they weren't surprised by the result. This was a domestic pitch furiously fought in an era when there aren't many big ones around to fight for.

Starcom never seemed to have much of a chance, especially when Hytner made public his view that the departure of Mark Cranmer from the agency was a factor. It seems to me that Hytner likes a big name on his business, but he also made a major play of wanting big media ideas from his media agency. Unusually, there was little mention of dreaded "efficiencies".

Although Barclays was later keen to show the pitch wasn't just a creative beauty parade, it still seemed to run a strategy-driven process.

Awarding the account, Hytner said Walker provided a "hard-hitting strategy which was underpinned with some great creative thinking". It seems interesting, then, that Walker decided to use the skills of five external consultants on the pitch. One of these was Mark Palmer, the former OMD strategy director, highlighting a trend for an increased use of outsourced thinking on pitches.

The win could herald yet more exciting times for an agency that has consolidated, rather than rocketed, since it cashed in its independence to M&C Saatchi in 2004. Georgiadis has committed to working closely on the account and calls it the agency's biggest win since its launch client, Dixons.

Critics have questioned Walker's direct response and digital credentials but Georgiadis points out that the agency has been driving customers into Marks & Spencer for years and has grown online and store traffic for Dixons.

You get the feeling that the agency's insights into the evolving response of consumers to retail messages helped it win the pitch.

On the whole, it's refreshing to see an agency from outside the top ten triumph in such a big pitch, apparently on the back of strong strategic thinking. Let's just hope these ideas amount to more than a pile of Barclays.