’The deal looks a very promising one, assuming various senior
creative egos can be massaged.’ Me, on the Simons Palmer’s TBWA deal
Spooky, eh? Actually, I don’t think Trevor Beattie’s resignation on
Monday had anything to do with this particular merger. Despite
scepticism about having five creative directors, most people assumed it
would last beyond Monday.
After Beattie had welcomed the merger in Campaign last week, everyone
sat back to relish the prospect of weeks of gossip and innuendo about
how it wasn’t working out. Trevor, true to form, has now spoiled their
sport. His frustration with TBWA before the merger was well known, and
it appears that all Paul Simons’ blandishments failed to make up for it.
Did he look daft by telling us, ’It will mean a bigger stage to deal
with ... I rate the Simons Palmer creative department very highly’, and
then resigning four days later?
Possibly - but then it’s always easy to comment on other people’s
Beattie, despite his over-exposure in the media (there happened to be a
fawning interview with him in the Guardian the morning he resigned), is
one of the more interesting characters in adland. It’s not just that
he’s a chirpy Brummie in a sea of miserable northern-git creatives, or
his Michael Jackson hairdo, that sets him apart. Beattie obviously loves
advertising. He’s proud to work in the business and proud of the product
he creates. He says he’s never wanted to do anything else. How many
people in adland do you know who you can genuinely say that of?
He’s also got a grip on the plot. He actually consumes the media his ads
run in - particularly television. Again, how many advertising people
really watch much commercial TV? Keep it simple is his mantra, and
understand the medium you work in. It’s worked to best effect on
posters, where, through Wonderbra and others, he’s done more to bring
that medium to the fore in recent years than anyone bar Luciano
Benetton. He will know that when he sticks to his own rules - ’toys
aren’t us’, the Nissan Micra launch - he’s brilliant, but when he
doesn’t, you end up with the bewildering Mr and Mrs Jones Nissan Primera
Beattie also understands how to play the media in the pursuit of gaining
more publicity for both his clients and his agency. Ironically, it’s a
skill he shares with Paul Simons. Both are criticised for it. Why, for
God’s sake? Advertising people surely have to respond to the changed
media context within which they work.
It’s a shame they won’t be working together, and it now looks like a
very Simons Palmer-dominated agency, which is no bad thing. Paul Simons
will be sad; Trevor was the main asset other than TBWA’s clients. And,
Trevor? Whatever he does, it won’t be dull.