In advertising, as in politics, a week is a long time. A short
while ago, Yellow M’s name barely registered on anybody’s radar screen.
Now, with the Conservative Party’s account in its pocket, the agency’s
curiosity value has soared.
Little matter that the appointment smacks of desperation. Agencies such
as Yellow M must seize their opportunities where they can.
A brand that’s lost its way wants to be famous again. And if Yellow M
can work the magic, it too can make its name.
But the ’if’ is a big one and, loathe as I am to pour cold water on
Geordie euphoria, I can’t help but have an uncomfortable feeling that
this relationship may not be a long one, nor withstand the strain of a
General Election run-up.
At first glance, there are some obvious reasons why Tory Central Office
chose to transfer its account beyond Soho’s confines. William Hague’s
extreme views on issues such as asylum seekers may be repugnant to the
Hampstead dinner-party libertarians but they strike a chord in
provincial high streets.
So why not appoint a regional agency that will tell it straight without
having to rely on arty-farty creative work?
Undoubtedly, the Tories will have felt that the time was right to break
completely with their famous advertising tradition and bring it out from
under Maurice Saatchi’s long shadow. Moreover, his elevation to the Tory
front bench in the Lords raises some awkward issues about conflict of
Yellow M seems to have muscled its way into contention with some robust
work for the Scottish Tories before last year’s elections to the
Edinburgh parliament. But this was created without the kind of pressures
that agency staffers who have never experienced them cannot even begin
Talk to those who worked on the Saatchi & Saatchi election team and the
memories are of a 35-strong group working up to 120 hours a week,
including weekends. And of arriving in the office at 6am and rarely
leaving much before midnight.
Timetables are tight even before the election race gets in full
If a fleet of advans is needed, it’s needed right away and it’s up to
the agency to deliver. The demands on creatives can be huge, with up to
half a dozen executions rejected for every one that runs. In the
production department, other clients’ work may have to go to the back of
the queue while election material gets priority.
If that’s not enough, there’s the party political broadcasts which need
the specialised talents of that endangered breed, the long
What’s more, it’s easier for big agencies to overcome widespread Tory
animosity within production companies fearful that the agency will put
other business elsewhere than it is for a small regional shop.
And, even supposing that the agency can find all the talent and
resources it needs, do the Tories look like a government-in-waiting?
Good luck Yellow M, you’ll need it.