’He plays a game with which I am not familiar,’ was the pithy
comment on John Banks whispered in my ear by an agency big cheese during
one of several lulls in the IPA Effectiveness Awards evening last week.
I’d been teasing him with news of the FCB acquisition of Banks Hoggins
Another eminence grise ruminated on money, deals and lucky bastards:
’Amazing how you can still just set up shop, trundle along a while,
become a thorn in the big boys’ side and then, sooner or later, one of
them will come along and buy you.’
To which I’d remark Banks Hoggins O’Shea wasn’t even that much of a
Born out of the false dawn that was the Banks Partnership, since 1991 it
has become a pounds 47 million billing agency, making it almost exactly
the same size as FCB.
To be honest, it’s an agency I’ve never been able to get a particularly
firm handle on, partly due to my inability to see beyond what I take to
be the larger-than-life, cigar-smoking ’Peter Marsh of the 90s’ image
Banks himself conveys.
In my head, he’s a wheeler-dealer figure, lumped together with the likes
of Lord Bell, Lord Saatchi, Marsh and the recently deceased Nigel
I’m vaguely aware of ’consultancy’ associations with the likes of senior
Turkish politicians, and that he is very well connected. I’ve heard the
stories about Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy & Mather, but I don’t really
know if they’re true. I’m sure he’s good at making money.
Ken Hoggins and Chris O’Shea are a respected duo, who’ve bounced back
well from their big Chiat Day mistake. They’ve created some nice work
for Amtico, Waitrose and Bombay Sapphire Gin, but working with a
relatively limited client base they’ve never quite managed that major
And so it came to pass that the UK’s 26th largest agency found itself
acquired by the 25th largest, FCB. Yes, 25th largest. More experienced
readers may find this view of the former number one shop only marginally
more difficult to accept than seeing CDP languish in 23rd place.
Is Banks Hoggins O’Shea/FCB the answer? Not with the names in that
The logic of acquiring extra critical mass as part of the first steps on
the road to recovery from the disastrous Publicis relationship is
The logic of not putting the FCB name first is not. If the idea behind
FCB’s new-found hunger in Europe is to utilise the sheer power and scale
of the FCB brand in the US, then how is this served by not being called
FCB in the most important European market? A similar wrangle went on
before the TBWA merger. The previous sentence proves my point.
Apologies to Lord Marshall, who was the chairman of this year’s IPA
Effectiveness Awards jury, not his predecessor at BA, Lord King (as I
foolishly wrote last week). That’ll teach me to bristle next time I get
mail addressed to Bernard Barnett, editor, Campaign.
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