Have you heard the sniping about Rover yet? How Rover was always
going to appoint M&C Saatchi; how it bent over backwards to give it more
chances; how it only won because Bill Muirhead drove a Morris Ital in
the 70s (actually, I made that one up); how it’s not worth as much as it
used to be and how the client’s a *@dollars *!. Of course none of it
changes the identity of the winner.
It was a fascinating pitch: a wounded incumbent against the three most
aggressive, unpredictable, never-say-die agencies in London. One must
have some sympathy for Ammirati Puris Lintas. Although it had little
choice but to re-pitch, it must have started last. Rover smelled like it
wanted change, if only to demonstrate it was trying to do something.
Although APL has hardly covered itself in glory with its Rover
advertising (think ’hostage’ and ’cool Britannia’ and blush) it has also
held the account during a nightmare period during which there was
nothing very positive to say about the brand. But, remember, the
business was ’bought’ in the first place, via the acquisition of Kevin
Morley Marketing. And, as your old mum will tell you, you can’t buy
Moving on, I think it was unlikely that WCRS would have won the business
once it had snared Rover’s European account. A local client wouldn’t be
a local client if he didn’t want his own agency. However, you would and
should never under estimate Robin Wight and his gang. Even now.
Which brings us to HHCL & Partners, which - unlike the other agencies
pitching - thought it had won. Its pitch line was ’50 per cent German,
100 per cent British’. Think about it. Rover would have been very brave
to buy the line, but it got researched out. It was quantitative research
by the way. Think about that.
But, I don’t believe any conspiracy theories.
M&C Saatchi’s first work wasn’t even put to research, so little did
Rover like it. But the agency team led by the joint chief executive,
Moray MacLennan, did not give up. It forced its way into the research
with entirely new work, which a committed team had laboured all hours
and all weekend on. It was the old Saatchi ’nothing is impossible’
spirit writ large. You can only admire their tenacity.
Rover has two models to launch before Christmas upon which its future
depends. Perhaps it was a strange time to call a pitch given that, but
a) we all know you can create a winning campaign well within that time
if you really have to, and b) that’s the client’s problem, so solve
And, if I had to choose an agency for a campaign upon which my future
depended, it would be difficult to resist messrs Saatchi, Muirhead,
Sinclair, Kershaw, Dicketts, Lowther, MacLennan, Hurrell, Duffy.