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
However, they underestimate Wight’s masterly handling of the BMW account
- only the media buying, now at Zenith, has slipped from his direct
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
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
Watch this space.