Ask Jonathan Stead of Rapier Stead & Bowden if the current UK
advertising scene is boring and you might receive an answer that differs
from the prevailing consensus opinion. He’s going to be busy, busy, busy
over the next couple of months, at the very least working on one of the
country’s biggest advertising challenges: the consumer launch of the
merged Cable & Wireless Communications. Good luck to his agency. I
suspect it will need it for many different reasons.
Good luck, too, to Richard Hytner, back as the Publicis chief executive
after a year out of the business at the Henley Centre. What a
fascinating job it appeared when he took it. It still is. But for some
people, like Hytner and the high-profile client who spoke wistfully to
me the other day, the agency environment, for all those faults we
recounted so frequently and at such length, is like a drug. Once bitten
on problem-solving, the adrenalin rushes of pitches, the people and the
sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll - sorry, opportunities brought about by
the changing media landscape - forever smitten.
The key, to return to a familiar theme, is to be busy doing the
It’s why you don’t hear Rainey Kelly staff complain they’re bored, or
messrs Wnek, Gosper, Souter, Flintham and McLeod; why Trevor Beattie is
having the time of his life (as evidenced by the refreshing new
Wrigley’s film); why Tim Delaney can continue to attract talent like
Tiger Savage and Mark Goodwin to his alleged sweat-shop; and why Jay
Pond-Jones looks so happy these days.
What Publicis has over the Henley Centre is the satisfaction of getting
to that end creative product, as long as that product does emerge, and
within a reasonable timeframe. How that timeframe can be shortened, and
how to keep staff motivated while their ideas are pulled apart and
sanitised to the point of unrecognisable wallpaper, should be an
What will worry Hytner and, for that matter, John Stubbings, who is back
from his Euro-role to run Bates Dorland, is that their jobs may not be
about doing the doing, but about politics. I wish the recent pasts of
their respective agencies could suggest otherwise but, in all honesty,
they don’t. Their jobs will be partly what they make of them and partly
what Michael Conroy and Michael Bungey let them make of them.
But when it all goes right; when there’s a confident trusting client
with an excellent relationship with an agency firing on all cylinders,
you can get consistently magnificent and innovative advertising of the
sort BMP DDB is producing across the board for Volkswagen right now -
rewarding for everyone involved.
We should all hope for all our sakes - except perhaps rivals such as
Euro RSCG, Lowes and O&M - that consumers are buying VWs in droves.