OPINION: Y&R takes no prisoners with Rainey Kelly swoop

Young & Rubicam’s swoop on Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe will have surprised many in the marketing and advertising communities, including, in no particular order: General Motors, the Lowe Group, McCann-Erickson, the AMV Group, WPP, staff at both agencies and Michael Finn.

Young & Rubicam’s swoop on Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe will have

surprised many in the marketing and advertising communities, including,

in no particular order: General Motors, the Lowe Group, McCann-Erickson,

the AMV Group, WPP, staff at both agencies and Michael Finn.



M&C Saatchi notwithstanding, since HHCL & Partners got snapped up by

messrs Bell and Sorrell, Rainey Kelly has been Britain’s number one

takeover target. There have been many rumours, but it was not clear if

the founders were ready to give up their independence quite yet. Rainey

Kelly is much younger at six years than HHCL and Simons Palmer Denton

Clemmow and Johnson were, or - for that matter - Duckworth Finn Grubb

Waters is.



But rumours had not linked the agency with Y&R, partly because of the

obvious General Motors/Ford and United Airlines/Virgin clashes, and

partly because Y&R has not made a UK advertising acquisition in 40

years. And this is by no means the worst of those times at Greater

London House.



The current management line-up has, without doubt, done a good job in

restoring the credibility of a great brand. In the early 90s Y&R

appeared to be racing that other famous name, Collett Dickenson Pearce,

down the plughole. Today it is the UK’s 16th largest agency, well over

double the size of CDP, which still languishes at 25th. With the

successive tumults of John Banks’ departure and the French, Lefroy and

Lindsay/Judge eras behind it, the agency grew 17 per cent in the last

Campaign Top 300, and the Ford coup has still to kick in.



But Rainey Kelly had reached 21 after six years. In itself it’s a

remarkable achievement but it’s one which can only further rub salt in

the wounds if you are sitting in the wood-panelled library that is the

sixth-floor management area of Y&R’s impressive Madison Avenue tower. Ed

Vick, Tom Bell, and the soon-to-depart Peter Georgescu, the men that run

the empire from there, cannot afford to have an agency in London that is

not at the very least a major contender. While they would concede that

Toby Hoare and co have done a good job in restoring the UK brand, it’s

simply not enough for them, not if Y&R aspires to the world’s first

rank.



Seeing beyond GM/Ford, finding a solution for Virgin/United, buying

Rainey Kelly and letting its principals have the toybox is a major

declaration of intent by Y&R’s American management. They are making a

clear statement that the London operation will not be just another local

office of a major multinational, but a creatively focused agency in its

own right. If only for that, we wish it every success.



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