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
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
There’s little doubt about his credentials in the visionary
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
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
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.