PERSPECTIVE: Crossovers are now finding they are not a cut above the rest

Three cheers for Labour and three cheers for Wieden & Kennedy

London, whose pounds 20 million Honda win puts it on the map. Last but

not least, three cheers for Charles Inge who's celebrating his 40th

birthday in style by leaving one of the more politically charged

agencies and jobs in London advertising - no, make that the world.

He's swapping creative directing at Lowe Lintas for a return to creating

ads at the start-up Clemmow Hornby. There is only one slight problem

with this. With such tricky names to conjure with, should the new agency

be called Me, You and Him? You, Him and Me?

or even Him, Me and You? We all know what happens to the last name on

the list, so answers on a postcard please.

But that's not the subject of this week's column. This week's column is

about what we might call crossovers - the pounds 4,000- to pounds

8,000-a-day commercials directors who have switched from being agency

creatives. They have direct experience with clients that breeds a

valuable approach: that the idea of an ad is as important as its look.

In recent years, as a cursory glance through Campaign's news pages will

testify, they have been breeding like mad.

Following the path blazed by such notables as Jeff Stark, Paul Weiland,

Richard Phillips, Frank Budgen and Paul Arden (this week's Private

Viewer, by the way), creatives such as Kevin Thomas, Tom Carty, Alex

Taylor, Vince Squibb, Simon Green and Matt Ryan have taken the leap.

Kevin Thomas took a while to get off the ground and was the last

crossover to make an impact, but Vince Squibb looks set to be a force to

be reckoned with. How good has Squibb got it? Full salary at Lowe Lintas

and he can direct anything he wants at Lowe's or outside.

It's hard to try to determine why some crossovers have failed where

others have succeeded. Are the failures the hapless victims of

astoundingly poor scripts? Perhaps. Is it a case that the more awards

you have to your name as an agency staffer the better your chances as a

director? No, for even Budgen, who's still the talk of the town in

directing terms, was hardly the biggest star at BMP when he left. But if

you haven't got armfuls of awards to your name, why would any creative

team want to talk to you?

It's a paradox. And as for the some of the recent crossovers, the jury

is still out. Will Tony Kaye feel flattered or robbed by Arty Carty's

Economist "Nelson Mandela" spot?

The real reason that so few crossovers have broken through recently has

to be that in a market that is massively over-supplied it is hard for

any new director to make his or her mark. With budgets being squeezed

all round, experienced directors are the ones who will continue to shine

as risk-taking becomes an anathema. Although shooting commercials is far

from being an exact science, economic forces rule the roost.