OPINION: When invading America do as the Americans do

America - like the past - is another country. They do things differently there. Particularly in the way US advertisers and their agencies build and bond their relationships to the bewilderment of would-be empire-builders from Europe.

America - like the past - is another country. They do things

differently there. Particularly in the way US advertisers and their

agencies build and bond their relationships to the bewilderment of

would-be empire-builders from Europe.



First it was Maurice Levy, the Publicis chairman, who foundered against

the combined might of True North and its powerful clients. Now GGT’s

Mike Greenlees has been left to rue the loss of dollars 125 million

worth of business, ripped out of Wells BDDP in New York by Procter &

Gamble.



To underestimate the ties that bind Madison Avenue and big business is

to make a big mistake. To treat them with patronising disdain or insist

- as some European invaders do - that the Americans need telling how to

do it, is potentially fatal.



It’s easy to mock the almost obsessional behaviour of US agencies

towards their clients. Account teams prepared to cartwheel down

corridors to celebrate an advertiser’s three extra brand points are not

unknown and it’s true the system has an incestuous aspect. The loyalties

of US adfolk and their clients can aggravate agency politics and create

account people with unhealthy influence.



The upside is that relationships between clients and agencies in the US

are more often the genuine partnerships based on mutual respect that

other mature advertising markets still strive for. While many agencies

elsewhere engage in the relentless pursuit of industry plaudits, US

shops service their business with unswerving commitment.



Recent events prove that any European agency boss seeking a firm US

foothold shouldn’t try to buck the system but understand its global

implications.



P&G will have found it far easier to vent its displeasure on Wells, with

no extensive international back-up, than its other US-based roster

networks where links are long and deep.



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