PERSPECTIVE: Why Jones’s fresh approach may be a boon for DMB&B

At first sight, David Jones’s appointment to the group chairman’s role at DMB&B is a curious one. A kneejerk reaction might be to raise an eyebrow that a manager so steeped in the traditions of Collett Dickenson Pearce and Lowe Howard-Spink should move to a group currently conducting the largest attempt at full-scale integration in the London industry, and one whose advertising agency - rightly or otherwise - has never been associated with the values of Jones’s former agencies. Jones’s image is as unlike that of the departing chairman, John Farrell, as you will find. Perhaps therein lies the attraction.

At first sight, David Jones’s appointment to the group chairman’s

role at DMB&B is a curious one. A kneejerk reaction might be to raise an

eyebrow that a manager so steeped in the traditions of Collett Dickenson

Pearce and Lowe Howard-Spink should move to a group currently conducting

the largest attempt at full-scale integration in the London industry,

and one whose advertising agency - rightly or otherwise - has never been

associated with the values of Jones’s former agencies. Jones’s image is

as unlike that of the departing chairman, John Farrell, as you will

find. Perhaps therein lies the attraction.



Farrell was much maligned when he first took the job, partly because of

the fondness in which the former bosses, Graham Hinton and Tony Douglas,

were held around town, but mostly because he was easily pigeon-holed as

a ’shelf-wobbler’, and such types don’t understand advertising,

’luv’.



He has since demonstrated that, at the very worst, he is more than

capable of running an agency group, and improving its performance. He

has let his agency managers, Barry Cook and Jeremy Pemberton, take the

lead, and the quality of the output has steadily improved. However, the

new-business performance has not kept pace with these improvements. If

anything, DMB&B is guilty of not marketing itself as strongly as its

competitors.



The agency also suffers from a peculiar problem that several other

groups might wish to have: the relative strength of the Media Centre and

IMP, both of which continue to thrive in their respective fields. This

happy situation somehow contrives to make the agency appear less dynamic

by comparison. And, to compound this problem, like McCann-Erickson, Grey

and Ammirati Puris Lintas, it already had to work harder to convince

people of its creative capabilities.



Enter Jones, rescued from the club-class circuit, anxious to stop

putting out fires for others and start a few himself.



One of his more pressing tasks will be to replace some of the new

business lost in the past two years: Budweiser, Royal Mail, Whiskas and

Burger King. This means marketing a better product that includes work

for Fiat, Umbro and Littlewoods.



Jones is not alone in this - more of the onus will now fall on Cook, and

perhaps there is room for another senior hiring. The best agencies

around town today need to have a greater strength in depth at top

director level.



Anyone believing that he will impose old-fashioned structures on the

place must be mistaken. Farrell, for one, would not have been involved

in appointing such a successor, and even more obviously the market in

general appears to be heading in the DMB&B group’s way. Jones must now

make sure the agency gets a bigger slice too. Much depends on how hungry

he still is.



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