OPINION: Wight’s ascent at Rover is double-edged sword

Rover is one of those clients that likes to shock. In November 1991 it fell for Kevin Morley’s offer to save the car giant money and gave him a guaranteed five-year run at a piece of total marketing business worth pounds 100 million, a bitter blow to the then BSB Dorland. Most agencies would still concede that they have to earn their right to such a deal, whether it be through an outstanding track record, a long, successful association with the client, or a competitive pitch.

Rover is one of those clients that likes to shock. In November 1991

it fell for Kevin Morley’s offer to save the car giant money and gave

him a guaranteed five-year run at a piece of total marketing business

worth pounds 100 million, a bitter blow to the then BSB Dorland. Most

agencies would still concede that they have to earn their right to such

a deal, whether it be through an outstanding track record, a long,

successful association with the client, or a competitive pitch.



A little over five years later, Rover has dealt a second bitter blow to

Bates Dorland - stripping it of the Land Rover account after eight

years, and handing the business without a pitch to WCRS, whose chairman,

Robin Wight, has been a ’special adviser’ on advertising and brand

development for Rover for nearly two years (Campaign, last week).



Some suspect that the decision is more of a tribute to Wight’s ambition,

ego and powers of persuasion than to any revolutionary thinking on the

part of the client. (Let us not forget, after all, that Wight has had

access for almost two years to the strategic and creative thinking of

Rover’s two roster agencies, Ammirati Puris Lintas and Bates

Dorland.)



However, they underestimate Wight’s masterly handling of the BMW account

- only the media buying, now at Zenith, has slipped from his direct

control.



In earning the trust of BMW, Wight has shown up the Bates Dorland

management of the Land Rover account; he has capitalised on the

behind-the-scenes creative differences over last autumn’s campaign and

the departure of Tony Taylor from Dorlands in London.



However, BMW and Wight should think carefully about the potential

problems.



What does Wight do if the work his agency produces for Land Rover is no

good - sack himself as the consultant? Will he be able to disentangle

himself from the inherent problems of being both consultant and

supplier?



Watch this space.



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