OPINION: Precocious St Luke’s is adland’s Wimbledon FC

One of the more pointless party games Campaign journalists like to play in the lull between Christmas and new year is to match agencies with Premier League football teams.

One of the more pointless party games Campaign journalists like to

play in the lull between Christmas and new year is to match agencies

with Premier League football teams.



Some partnerships are obvious. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO is a supremely

self-confident juggernaut bursting with skilled players for whom winning

has become a habit. Like Manchester United, AMV is deservedly top of the

table. And what of J. Walter Thompson, an agency struggling to match

past achievements? Tottenham Hotspur is the comparison that springs to

mind.



Now the hard part. Which agency is the equivalent of Wimbledon, the team

loved and loathed in equal measure but whose impact on the game is

unlikely to be forgotten for a long time? With its unconventional

approach, HHCL & Partners has always been seen as advertising’s ’crazy

gang’. But does St Luke’s, Campaign’s Agency of the Year, stand as a

better comparison?



The bestowal of the accolade will provoke debate. For, like Wimbledon,

St Luke’s has more than held its own in a league where many judged it

would be hard-pressed to survive, let alone thrive.



St Luke’s sets itself up as an easy target for critics. Its policy of

replacing offices with ’brand rooms’, its refusal to enter work for

creative awards and its insistence on pulling out of pitches with which

it feels uncomfortable can smack of pretension and an insufferable

preciousness.



But every agency has to complete its rites of passage and St Luke’s is

no different. Indeed, at a time when too many shops try to dress up a

mish-mash of old philosophies and present them to clients as their own

usp, it’s heartening to see St Luke’s striving to offer something

original.



Broadly similar sentiments might also be applied to Michaelides &

Bednash, whose choice as Media Agency of the Year reflects the growing

belief that the business of strategic media planning as a stand-alone

operation has come of age.



And not before time. Agencies of all kinds carp at being reduced to mere

supplier status by their clients and look over their shoulders for

management consultants marching into their territory.



The likes of Michaelides & Bednash are tapping into a lucrative vein of

client demand and, in doing so, ensure the industry dines again at the

top table.



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