Not that you can really blame Lindsay for buggering off, although his timing could be kinder. As someone with a great track record at creatively led agencies, he never seemed particularly comfortable at the process-led, creatively lacklustre Publicis. Despite his best efforts, the agency remains dull and TBWA and Omnicom seem far more appropriate homes for his talents.
Lindsay is one of adland's more enduring chiefs. He's been around a bit: Grey, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Young & Rubicam, Lowe, and he's worked at TBWA before, in the early 80s, when he was the account man behind the legendary Lego "kipper" ad. So it's no surprise that he was near the top of the list when Paul Bainsfair vacated the TBWA chair in March.
As well as the challenge of rediscovering TBWA's creative mojo, Lindsay also has the chance to rejuvenate the tired agency brand by leveraging the group proposition with Agency.com and Tequila; it's Omnicom's stated ambition to create mini holding companies around the individual creative agency networks, with different but aligned disciplines working together. Integration has been Lindsay's big shtick at Publicis, and is one of his real legacies there, creating a much more coherent group offering.
So Lindsay's decision is hardly a shock move, even though he's been vigorously denying any talks for weeks. But heck, it all leaves Publicis in a bit of a mess. Which might not matter so much if there were plenty of promising chief executives waiting in the wings for such a big opportunity. But it's hard to know where the agency might find a strong CEO and a group chief from right now, and quickly. Saatchi & Saatchi is still looking, three months after the previous incumbent Lee Daley resigned and if the shortlist of candidates it's rumoured to have compiled is anything to go by, the talent well is bone dry.
Of course, there's always Publicis' sister agency, Fallon. Two of the five Fallon founders have now quit, Andy McLeod at the end of last year to become a director, Michael Wall this week to explore the joys of Portugal. So, post-earn-out, the agency management is in very different shape. Meanwhile, the managing partner Robert Senior would relish a big agency group challenge and, having taken Fallon to the heady heights of Agency of the Year, is probably ready for a new ride. Merging in Fallon could, at a stroke, reinvent Publicis as a quality, creatively driven agency, with a first-class injection of talent.
A semi-merger of the two agencies has already happened in Asia and, though Fallon US has been given a stay of execution for the moment, it's highly possible that Publicis Groupe will call time before too long. The crisis in London may well speed up that decision. Certainly, for the sake of the people still working at the agency here, something dramatic and different needs to be done.
Apparently Aegis is telling media owners it wants to extend its credit terms to 60 days after its ads have run. Wake up, this could be important.
In these days of ball-breaking fee negotiations and bastard procurement demands, media agencies are always on the hunt for ways to bolster the bottom line. Given that money management is key to media agencies' financial performance, Aegis might be on to a good thing. But it does highlight the absolute redundancy of the commission system. Who are we fooling to keep clinging to this outmoded and increasingly meaningless trading mechanism?