Mark Wnek on Advertising

Losing one lot of management is unfortunate; two is a little careless
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The Independent Online

While it's all well and good for Paul Bainsfair, the European president of TBWA, to wax cool and laid back on the (to the rest of the world stunning) news of the departure of Trevor Beattie, Andrew McGuinness and Bill Bungay - aka the agency's senior management - the coolness starts to verge on the foolish when you add to this the exodus of Bainsfair's last senior management - Johnny Hornby, the managing director, Simon Clemmow, the planning director, and Garry Lace, the CEO - all within the past four years or less.

While it's all well and good for Paul Bainsfair, the European president of TBWA, to wax cool and laid back on the (to the rest of the world stunning) news of the departure of Trevor Beattie, Andrew McGuinness and Bill Bungay - aka the agency's senior management - the coolness starts to verge on the foolish when you add to this the exodus of Bainsfair's last senior management - Johnny Hornby, the managing director, Simon Clemmow, the planning director, and Garry Lace, the CEO - all within the past four years or less.

To lose one entire level of senior management may be unfortunate, you could argue, but to lose two begins to look a little careless.

Bainsfair was quoted last week in a trade rag talking up TBWA's record since the Hornby/Clemmow departure - bizarre when the same rag had TBWA down for losing some 30 to 40 per cent of its billings during the past few years. But even this is not the point: Clemmow and Hornby run one of the most successful UK agencies (Clemmow Hornby Inge), with around £100m of billings - success which would have accrued to TBWA had their huge talents been retained within the agency.

How can you hang on to people who are so ambitious, etc? Er, it's called good management. See AMV BBDO for details. Under the unimpeachable management of Michael Baulk, this agency has managed to hang on to its superstars - like Andrew Robertson, now head of BBDO worldwide - while allowing its entrepreneurs - like Jeremy Miles and Helen Calcraft, founders of MCBD - to leave elegantly and with no repercussions to AMV BBDO's business: the agency is still the biggest in the UK.

Surely, what nobody (apart, it seems, from the more gullible representatives of the trade press) falls for - particularly clients - is that, with respect, McGuinness was an adequate replacement for Hornby and Lace, or that Tony McTear (brilliant creative, though he is) and Danny Brooke-Taylor make up for the loss of Beattie.

Only in planning can TBWA be said to be rosy with one of the ad industry's greatest minds, Neil Dawson, on the premises. One rumour doing the rounds is that TBWA worldwide management were not best pleased with what they saw as the Beattie-led London agency's lack of passion for the worldwide effort, and that his departure will bring the London agency back to the global heel.

While this might explain Bainsfair's equanimity - as European president with presumably global ambitions, he will always have one eye on his masters' wishes - it will do little to buoy TBWA'S UK clients.

* A massive 1,040 complaints so far about KFC's new television spot - showing people working at a call centre, singing down the phone and to each other with their mouths full - makes me wonder what kind of country we live in.

Suggestions to parents with nothing better to do than ring the Advertising Standards Authority: spend the time instead teaching your children the difference between reality and television; tell them that speaking with your mouth full is not a very effective way to communicate; have a quick check on the fate of children in many other parts of the world less fortunate than our own and be thankful that we are able to fill our children's mouths with food.

Suggestions to Ofcom or whichever bureaucratic office currently controls the commercial airwaves: check out the BBC's strength in standing up to the anti-Jerry Springer protesters, then try to begin affording advertisers a few of the same freedoms.

Ps. A big thanks to the 1,040 from KFC: thanks to you, the Spicy Zinger Salad commercial is making a far bigger impact than it deserves.

* Lunch at the Charlotte Street Hotel with Lee Daley, the new CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi in London. When Daley left agency HHCL/Red Cell, he was quoted as saying that he had never worked in any agency as good as the one he had in his head. I had an extra-fat notebook with me to gather up more such cringe-making gems. Sadly, not only did I discover that Daley never said that, but he spent the entire lunch being, well, quite inspirational. Many (including me) saw his hiring for the Saatchi top spot as a weird one by Richard Hytner, the European boss . I now have a suspicion it might be the making of both Daley and the agency: long live reinvention.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you

The number of people in or around the ad business spouting about the future "beyond advertising" etc etc is climbing up to the thousands.

In most cases these people are either commentators with no fiscal attachment to the accuracy of their predictions; people from ailing companies who would love it known that actually their poor performance in easily quantifiable areas is the result of their lack of interest in those areas and their "pioneering" activities in other, impossible to quantify areas; or people starting companies who need to have something "modern" to say.

The more you listen to this talk about "media neutral" thinking, "integration", "content" etc, the more it reminds you of schoolboys threatening each other.

But who has actually done anything radical, new and effective "beyond advertising" over the past decade? Only US agency Fallon with their 15-minute mini-films for BMW directed by and starring major Hollywood talent, and viewable only online.

Meanwhile the mouthing off continues, at its essence assertions and counter-assertions as to what the most important new medium (for which read "canvas") for commercial messaging will be. Once this frankly rudimentary process is over, who will fill these canvases in a way that excites consumers? The creative ladies and gentlemen who live in advertising agencies, that's who. In your haste to go beyond advertising, never ever forget who lays the golden eggs.

mark@adguru.co.uk

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