Mark Wnek on Advertising

When there's Champagne in ad land, it's quite apt for it to be Brut
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The Independent Online

The Adguru - as I am, in times of triumph, styling myself - has done it again by predicting the outcome of the year's biggest UK new business pitch so far: Sainsbury's has decided to stay with incumbent agency AMV BBDO. And quite right too. While I feel sorry for the losing pitch finalist, Bell's JWT, they have the class and stature to come again.

The Adguru - as I am, in times of triumph, styling myself - has done it again by predicting the outcome of the year's biggest UK new business pitch so far: Sainsbury's has decided to stay with incumbent agency AMV BBDO. And quite right too. While I feel sorry for the losing pitch finalist, Bell's JWT, they have the class and stature to come again.

But in case anyone was in any doubt as to the brutality of the ad industry, with the echo of Champagne corks still vivid in the ears of AMVers, an even bigger AMV client, British Telecom, has announced it wants its roster agencies - and maybe some new ones - to pitch for AMV's £40m BT consumer account. The other roster agencies are smaller, highly creative shops: Fallon and St Luke's.

The pitch is a baptism of fire for Paul Brazier, the new AMV BBDO executive creative director, whose appointment I was less than complimentary about last week. Brazier has an immediate opportunity to prove me wrong and I hope he does - not least because I think, as with Sainsbury's, AMV has done sterling service on BT and remains its best home.

And spare a thought for poor old St Luke's, following the highly publicised decision by Chinese benefactors not to bail out ailing Rover - £20m plus of St Luke's billings. St Luke's are an important and vibrant part of UK ad culture and don't deserve this.

* Following the shock announcement of my move to Lowe New York, I was gratified to see publications, from The Guardian in the UK to Adweek in the US, be very nice about me and my upcoming challenge. The only ones off the pace were, as ever, the pantomime dames (and that's just the blokes) of Campaign magazine, with a cheeky little piece in their Diary column implying I had been sucking up to Lowe in this column for months.

They even roped in some nonsense about Gay Haines, the world's best head-hunter - sorry, chaps, Gay had nothing to do with the move. Needless to say, I reserve the right to suck up to anyone I want in my column, though I hope I never become as oleaginous as Campaign when they write about Sir Martin Sorrell.

* Spotted together on a train from York to London: Trevor Beattie and Andrew McGuinness, chairman and chief executive respectively of top London agency TBWA and subjects of completely and utterly ridiculous rumours that they are leaving TBWA to set up their own shop. York is the change station for Scarborough, home of TBWA client giant chip-maker McCain. Why, troublemakers ask me, would the two top people from TBWA be visiting McCain other than to tell them they were leaving? Either that or the McCain account is rocky, they say. My answer to these asinine suggestions is that top adpeople always make a point of visiting their clients as often as possible - as THE top adman in the UK, Trevor does this more than most. Indeed last week he took a plane to see his John Smith clients. So convinced am I of the absurdity of this rumour, that if it's true I'll buy dinner for Ben Langdon.

* Is anyone else fascinated like me at how agency Euro RSCG London has become a top five UK agency in size, despite an absolutely lamentable new business record during the past 18 months and the loss of the massive Intel account? There's obviously some new method of counting size and billings that I'm not aware of, unless it's as simple as agency groups deciding to lump all the figures of every single company they own under one umbrella. An advantage of this would be to mask the performance of underperforming flagship brands, the ad agencies.

This would explain the dinner I recently had with the European chief of a famous agency brand (not Euro RSCG). I was keen to find out why this agency was performing so badly in the UK and why my companion didn't seem that bothered. He said: "You're only looking at the ad agency - have you seen how brilliantly our healthcare division is doing?" This phrase has now become my call sign for when an ad business is on its way down the tubes.

A 20-year 'Campaign' for suit pays off

Talking of sucking up, agency Publicis held a terrific party at London's Groucho Club last Thursday night in honour of Campaign reporter John Tylee's 20 years loyal service at the trade rag. Of course, the party was crawling with the Adguru's loyal spies, many of whom occupy the highest echelons of ad land.

Guests included Peter Mead, the 'M' of AMV; John Bartle, a 'B' of BBH; Cilla Snowball, the chairman of AMV; Andrew Cracknell, the former Bates chairman; Jeremy Miles, the 'M' of MCBD; Simon Marquis, the media mogul/guru and all-round top bloke; Rupert Howell, McCann chief; and many more. Also present were no less than five Campaign editors, past and present: Claire Beale, the current boss; Stefano Hatfield, Guardian columnist and bigwig at Metro; Dominic Mills, now editorial director of Haymarket Publishing; Chrissie Barker, PR director at JWT; and Mark Jones.

The occasion was not only Tylee's 20th year at Campaign, but also his 26th wedding anniversary. Much as it would be fun to report an evening full of scurrilous backbiting, most of the talk was about what a good egg and straight arrow 59-year-old Tylee is. As regular readers of this column will know, I've had a bit of rough and tumble (my favourite) with Tylee now and again, but so jolly was the atmosphere last Thursday night that even I got away with only a mild shoeing.

But one of the biggest talking points at the party was how nice it was that, for the first time in living memory, Tylee was wearing a decent suit.

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