Robin Wight, the chairman of WCRS, is at the centre of a
controversy over the expected appointment of his agency to Land Rover’s
pounds 6.5 million advertising account. Rumours of the win, which began
to circulate last week, have led to criticism of Wight’s position as a
consultant to Rover’s board.
Wight has been a special adviser on advertising and brand development
for Rover for nearly two years. As such, he has had access to the
strategic and creative thinking of its two roster agencies, Ammirati
Puris Lintas, which handles Rover cars, and Bates Dorland, the incumbent
on Land Rover.
Graham Hinton, chairman of Dorlands, confirmed his agency had been
dropped by Rover after eight years on the Land Rover account. He added:
’I’m not aware the appointment has been made. If it has, then there may
have been a conflict of interest.’
Cracks had begun to appear in the relationship in recent months,
following creative differences on last autumn’s campaign and
disagreements about the departure of Tony Taylor, who headed the
business at Dorlands (Campaign, 16 August 1996).
Wight refused to comment on the future of the account, but said that he
was as surprised as Dorlands when he heard it was moving.
He added: ’Ever since I was appointed by Rover to advise the board on
advertising issues, I’ve been trying to help the existing agencies. Both
the direction of the new Land Rover advertising and some other specific
content was suggested by myself as part of this process.’
Wight is very close to BMW, which bought the Rover Group in 1994, and
WCRS has handled BMW’s advertising for 15 years. All three senior
managers involved in taking advertising decisions at Rover are former
BMW men who have worked with WCRS before.
For Dorlands, it is the second bitter blow dealt in recent years by the
motor group. Dorlands lost Rover cars in 1992 after its managing
director left to start up his own agency, Kevin Morley Marketing, and
took the business with him.