MEDIA SPOTLIGHT ON: TEMPUS - Has Tempus sown the seeds of an advertising revolution ... or is the fanfare over its Added Value takeover just hype? Alasdair Reid asks

Last week’s pounds 35 million acquisition of Added Value Group by Tempus has to be a smart move in anyone’s book. This, by all accounts, is a very classy act indeed. A high-level international marketing consultancy led by Peter Dart and Mark Sherrington, with offices in Paris, Hamburg, Milan, Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Cape Town as well as London, Added Value advises blue-chip clients on a wide range of brand strategy issues.

Last week’s pounds 35 million acquisition of Added Value Group by

Tempus has to be a smart move in anyone’s book. This, by all accounts,

is a very classy act indeed. A high-level international marketing

consultancy led by Peter Dart and Mark Sherrington, with offices in

Paris, Hamburg, Milan, Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Cape Town as

well as London, Added Value advises blue-chip clients on a wide range of

brand strategy issues.



Added Value’s turnover (pounds 30 million in 1999) has grown

exponentially since it launched in 1988; and if it maintains its growth

trajectory it will contribute very nicely to the Tempus bottom line.



A good day’s work for the Tempus chairman, Chris Ingram. But, if you

believe the hype, that’s only half the story. Because there are those

who would have you believe that this deal is a milestone for the

advertising industry.



The extent to which you believe that hype more or less comes down to how

much of a visionary you believe Chris Ingram to be. Or, to be more

accurate, it depends on your belief in the chances of lightning striking

twice.



There’s little doubt about his credentials in the visionary

department.



Ingram was, after all, one of the first to trail-blaze the concept of

the media independent back in the 70s, thus initiating the biggest

structural change in the marketing services business since Lord

Leverhulme was a boy.



In this Added Value deal, we are being asked to see the seeds of an

equally powerful revolution; or as Ingram himself puts it: ’This will be

a unique offer in the marketing services industry and offers a clear

alternative to the traditional ad agency model.’



A number of buttons are being pushed here, not least the growing anxiety

felt by traditional ad agencies that part of their role will be usurped

by management consultants. The big agencies used to have sophisticated

planning departments that essentially acted as high-powered marketing

consultancies. But, according to many clients, those agencies switched

to a skeleton service when the recession hit in 1990 and forgot to turn

the lights back on when the economy picked up again.



And (perhaps because of this) agencies are no longer talking to the most

senior people within client organisations. You could argue they would

have little to say if they got in to see them anyway. Ad agencies are

merely those people who are subcontracted to make videos for the

marketing department. Consultants like Added Value, on the other hand,

report right to the very top.



Which brings us to the second source of extreme creative agency anxiety

- the desire of media agencies to supplant them in the marketing food

chain. In an increasingly complicated media world, clients are being

urged to define their media strategy before they even think about

briefing a creative agency.



Added Value and its new sister company, CIA Medianetwork, will

increasingly hunt in tandem - in fact it is the prospect of teamwork

that attracted Added Value management to Tempus rather than bigger and

more diversified marketing services groups. Added Value plugs straight

into senior management and becomes a foot in the door for CIA.



There are those who think that we’re actually seeing the exact opposite

trend: the reintegration of a wide range of marketing services functions

within large ad agency groups - not so much full-service agencies as

full-service federations, like, for instance, WPP.



And there are cynics who argue that this deal is very much about

WPP.



Many believe that WPP, which had its 20 per cent stake in Tempus diluted

by this deal, will move sooner or later to acquire Ingram’s company. The

Added Value deal, some say, is an attempt to forestall the

inevitable.



One way or another it will be interesting to see what Martin Sorrell,

chief executive of WPP, and a would-be visionary in his own right,

thinks of it all.



Leader, p27.



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