Attracting attention in the world's advertising marketplace is a survival skill needed by all networks, whether it's to maintain a good rapport with an existing client or to help win a global account.
That's why TBWA's Disruption philosophy, which was written by its chairman, Jean-Marie Dru, long before his agency BDDP was subsumed into the group, is now the focus of any creative work done by the network.
Disruption is about communicating the message by disrupting the conventional.
Disruption days, alongside planning and strategic tools, are designed to persuade people to think harder about reaching consumers who are bombarded with marketing messages on a daily basis.
Now Saatchi & Saatchi is attempting to create its own umbrella philosophy with Lovemarks. The Lovemarks philosophy centres on the creation and upkeep of brands that consumers relate to and, well, love. The network's chief executive, Kevin Roberts, is evangelical about Lovemarks to the point that he's written a book on them, published this month.
"Companies make money from loyalty, not from new business," he reasons. "It makes sense to make sure that people love your brand and never, ever want to switch to a competitor."
It sounds fair enough, but will it be strong enough to propel the network forwards and help to create a credible point of difference that global clients will buy into? Will it help to keep hold of business? And, ultimately, will it help to swell the coffers for the network's parent company Publicis?
Roberts is emphatic: "It's a simple concept. Ask any chief executive whether they want people to love and respect their brands and they all say 'yes'."
Dru and his colleagues have integrated Disruption in a systematic way throughout TBWA, which might seem anal for a creatively driven concept.
"It has a very clear purpose - it's in no way chaotic," Dru stresses. "Creative disruption needs to be structured carefully, so you don't stray from the goal."
The thinking behind Lovemarks has been drip-fed into the network for the past five years, although, unlike Disruption, Roberts is not a fan of structures or processes. "I don't believe we have to have a whole load of network-wide systems to make sure Lovemarks are at the forefront of every conversation we have with clients," he says. Hence, there are no specialist staff within the network preaching the Lovemarks gospel. "We want to inspire our people to be more effective but they need to 'get' Lovemarks themselves, rather than be told that it's procedure."
The real test of an agency positioning is if it works on all levels, not just in the glossy credentials presentation. The president and creative director of TBWA\Paris, Marie-Catherine Dupuy, stresses that Disruption is key to motivating and retaining creative talent. She says: "Most creatives want to work in an environment where they are stimulated and challenged." She also believes creative briefs are hugely improved as a result of account and planning people thinking along the same lines.
Disruption also saves the network time; it now has a policy in its biggest regions not to pitch for business if the client won't agree to a Disruption day as part of the process. Yes, TBWA turns down pitches, safe in the knowledge the client probably isn't right for it. The flip-side is the efficacy of Disruption as a new-business tool. Some offices use Dru's books to reinforce the network's position to potential clients.
It also makes money by charging for Disruption days: in some regions, 15 per cent of revenue comes from uniting clients and agencies to broker new thinking. That said, its structure is expensive for the network. "Yes, it costs lots," Dru admits. "But it's worth it - it gives us a real edge."
Lovemarks also extends beyond being a book and a manifesto. Saatchis has invested two years of research and cash into building a research tool, which Roberts says can quantify consumers' emotions towards brands and products. The aim is to sell it to existing clients, but there's a potential revenue stream to be had from conducting research for companies and brands that use other agencies for their advertising - which, if it works, will no doubt please Publicis' chief executive, Maurice Levy.
Although Dru and Roberts are the primary architects of their respective talismans, both take a fatherly, rather than a proprietorial, interest in their futures. "If I'd left TBWA ages ago, then, yes, Disruption would probably have withered on the vine," Dru says. "It belongs to the agency now." Roberts is keen for Lovemarks to be seen as a Saatchis initiative: "I've bequeathed it to the network. If I ever left - and I'm not going to - it would stay here."