PERSPECTIVE: Creative prejudices undermine strength of direct marketing

Bates, OgilvyOne and even M&C Saatchi made moves in the direct marketing field this week - each of which, in small ways, reflect the advertising groups’ ongoing struggle with exactly how best to manage integration.

Bates, OgilvyOne and even M&C Saatchi made moves in the direct

marketing field this week - each of which, in small ways, reflect the

advertising groups’ ongoing struggle with exactly how best to manage

integration.



Bates’ acquisition of Blue Skies seemed like a good idea: bring in a

direct marketing specialist, regroup and rebrand existing direct and

sales promotions units, drop the Dorland name and promote the all-new

communications agency, Bates UK, with a single bottom line. I don’t know

Graham Green, the chief of Blue Skies, well enough to comment on him

personally, but he’s a heavy hitter with a high profile who polarises

opinion and has a slightly chequered past (notably, through association

with Woollams Moira Gaskin O’Malley).



While the idea is a good one, it is obvious that the move would not

leave everyone happy - in, particular, within Bates Communications.

There is no way such initiatives can be undertaken without

unsettling/antagonising existing managers. Self-evidently, Bates’ UK

chairman, Graham Hinton, cannot have been entirely happy with the

existing arrangement, or he would not have acted. He must have been

prepared for some pain, and pain he’s got. The task now is to heal

bruised egos and accentuate the positive.



Paul Simons, Ogilvy & Mather’s new chairman, faces a similar

challenge.



News that OgilvyOne is to leave Smithfield to join its above-the-line

sister in Canary Wharf plays tricks with my infamously dodgy memory.

Funny, I could have sworn Simons told me he would take the O&M job on

condition the group left Canary Wharf.



What he must have said was that the group companies would be brought

closer together, and I must have misinterpreted this to mean they’d all

leave Canary Wharf. I already know how unhappy the OgilvyOne people

feel.



O&M must have struck a bloody good deal on the rent to be so prepared to

antagonise its own staff.



M&C Saatchi’s move into direct is a surprise - and not just because I’d

picked that erstwhile M&C Saatchi village member, Jon Claydon, for my

Fantasy Agency League team. The founders of M&C have not long been noted

for their admiration and passionate endorsement of the direct

discipline. The arrival of Craik Jones’s Lisa Thomas to run a start-up

may signal a Damascene conversion. Perhaps.



Isn’t the real key to these and other such initiatives within the direct

field attitudinal? It doesn’t matter what above-the-line agencies say

externally if the private daily reality remains a story of patronising

direct practitioners or disdaining their work. I’m not saying that’s the

case at the three above-mentioned agencies, but we all know it goes on -

particularly in the creative department. A genuinely positive attitude

was why HHCL’s embrace of former IMP staff proved successful, and why a

refreshingly prejudice-free place like FCA!, our direct agency of the

year, is thriving.



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