It is a curious fact that, despite the energy displayed by many
’second-wave’ agencies formed in the 80s, none have matched the impact
achieved by Boase Massimi Pollitt, Saatchi and Saatchi, Abbott Mead
Vickers, Lowe-Howard Spink, WCRS or Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Thus the
question: ’Will there ever be a fourth wave?’ is a valid one (see
feature, page 36).
Is the new generation suffering from an overcrowded market? Do the most
talented people prefer to stay with the longer established agencies? Or
are potential clients insufficiently dissatisfied with their existing
agency to risk a move? The answer is probably a mixture of all these
reasons and more.
The market is over-supplied, and among the suppliers is an abundance of
creatively led agencies including the first-wavers who capitalised on
the frustration of clients locked into aging agencies. This, combined
with innovative agency management, found an expression which has never
Second-wave agencies such as Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, Simons Palmer
Clemmow Johnson and Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters have all made their mark
with awards and profits, but they are a long way from reaching the
stature of the first wave.
As for the third wave - Cowan Kemsley Taylor, Barker and Ralston, Butler
Lutos et al - with the exception of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe they
have matched neither the entrepreneurialism of the first wave nor the
creative ability of the second wave.
A repeat of the 80s phenomenon requires several things: the
institutionalism of the first wave and the retirement of its founding
fathers, the desire for a fresh approach from clients and the rise of a
new breed of agency staff. All that, and a supply of start-up money too.
Bob Willott, of Willott Kingston Smith, gives it at least five years,
probably ten. Who’s to say he’s wrong?