In the transient world of advertising, where you are mainly judged on your last piece of work, being noiseless is a sin. And, up until now, there has been almost a whispering campaign about how "quiet" they had been. Early promises that these two agencies, set up by seasoned and talented practitioners at similar times, were going to be the next big things were therefore inaccurate, some said. "How disappointing" was the received wisdom – although, in reality, there may have been an element of schadenfreude from the bitterer elements who don’t always enjoy a success story or had not got the balls to do the same themselves. If you’re looking for the next Adam & Eve, then look elsewhere.
In fairness to the naysayers, from the outside looking in, it was almost forgivable to assume that Joint was just focusing on churning out a large volume of hard-working ads for TSB, while Lucky Generals had become a champion (however laudably) for homosexual footballers and brightly coloured boot laces. It seemed a waste of their collective talents.
While we may not see a rash of start-ups again for some time, those that are extant are surely worth cherishing
And it would have been had this been the case, but the hushed noises out of both shops were not evidence of a lack of industry. While Helen Calcraft and Richard Exon have been winning business, creative endeavours have also not been ignored – last week saw Danny Brooke-Taylor release an epic three-minute film starring Jeff Bridges and directed by Ivan Zacharias for Kahlúa. It’s a belter – as a signal of ambition, it tells you all you need to know.
A healthy independent sector is a good thing for the vitality of the industry – in fact, increasingly so, given how many of the livelier and distinctive digital shops such as Lean Mean Fighting Machine have sold up. They are also good for plurality and client choice – unbound by the restrictions of network financial rules, creative guidelines or corporate best practice. And while we may not see a rash of start-ups again for some time, those that are extant are surely worth cherishing for providing an alternative voice and encouraging entrepreneurship.
And, talking of which, it was also heartening to see that the advances of Channel 4 and others to handle the Channel 5 ad sales contract have been spurned by Viacom. Nick Bampton and his team have set about shaking up the TV ad sales market with an entrepreneurial zeal not unlike those start-ups mentioned above. A bit like the unchanging ageing process of the Downton cast, long may he continue to do so.