Barker and Ralston may be forced to make nearly half its staff
redundant after losing its flagship Abbey National business - which
bills an estimated pounds 15 million - to Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper this
The move, which consolidated the Abbey National’s entire account at
Euro RSCG, comes only six months after the agency lost its grasp on
Saab’s pounds 8 million advertising business. The losses wipe nearly
three quarters off the agency’s pounds 33 million (Register-MEAL) 1996
The Abbey loss will also affect Barker and Ralston’s tentative alliance
with McCann-Erickson (Campaign, 7 February). The two sides have already
had further talks this week.
Derek Ralston, the founder and managing director of Barker and Ralston,
was putting a brave face on the Abbey loss this week, stressing that he
will fight to keep the agency’s style and culture. He insisted only
eight of Barker and Ralston’s 28 staffers would have to leave.
However, other insiders put the number at 13. The redundancies come
mainly from the agency’s production and studio facilities, according to
Some are likely to find work on the account at Euro RSCG.
One option for Barker and Ralston, which now has four active clients -
Beck’s Bier, E&J Gallo, Thresher and HPI Equifax - is to merge with
another agency, likely to be McCanns.
The McCanns alliance was set up to be a symbiotic relationship, giving
Barker and Ralston the services of a big multinational in running its
E&J Gallo wine account overseas, and McCanns a foot in the door of a
large piece of financial business such as the Abbey.
The Abbey’s decision to increase advertising spend by around a third,
to pounds 40 million, and hand it to Euro RSCG without a pitch came as
a surprise to Barker and Ralston, but the Abbey’s customer marketing
director, Sara Weller, has been concerned that the agency might not
have the critical mass to be a long-term partner.