Thanks to WCRS, Engine is building a head of steam
A view from Jeremy Lee

Thanks to WCRS, Engine is building a head of steam

The incredible size of the industry's heart was evident last week at the charity fundraiser and evening of celebration of the life of Nick Milligan.

Any business or personal rivalries made way for things that really matter – friendship, loyalty and the opportunity to use the remarkable and privileged position that advertising has to do the right thing.

The event raised a remarkable quarter-of-a-million pounds for the Cornish Air Ambulance. It was both moving and reaffirming to see so many industry greats as well as a younger generation united on an evening that was always going to be bittersweet.

The only shame, which I suppose is inevitable, is that it takes such a terrible thing to happen to see this side of the business – as someone pointed out to me, I doubt there are any other industries that could match advertising’s soul and generosity. They’re probably right.

On to other matters – what’s happening at Engine? While its component parts have traditionally been seen as bigger than the whole (particular gems in the group are Partners Andrews Aldridge and Jam), WCRS has found itself on a bit of a new-business roll of late, with the Crown Commercial Service providing a rich seam.

History had seemed to dictate that WCRS would be a stranger to the new-business league but, under the stability provided by its likeable and energetic – if low-profile – chief executive, Matt Edwards, these shackles appear to have been thrown off.

If WCRS is able to improve its creative output, then talk of a revival might not be inappropriate

Stability is something that had been lacking at an agency that tended to go through CEOs at the rate that most businesses replenish their stationery cupboard. If WCRS is also able to improve the creative output (another area where it has been somewhat humdrum) and retain its founding BMW client, then talk of a revival might not be inappropriate. This would undoubtedly help Engine’s "one-stop shop" positioning, to which WCRS has always seemed to be a weak element.

While the Government has taken a shine to Engine (its award of the Army’s non-recruitment brief must surely be a concern to JWT London, which, despite producing innovative work to support the Army Reserves, seems to have failed to attract the new recruits it needs), the European Commission has also taken note.

Engine will play a much-needed role in supporting the creative economy after being appointed to handle an interesting project funded by the EC that is designed to see how creativity can be stimulated.

Whatever the real size, it’s something that will sit well on the credential documents. And who would have thought that of an agency group whose most famous contribution to the European project is a nodding dog called Churchill?