Mark Wnek on Advertising

Just a handshake, but it's enough to get the creative juices flowing
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The Independent Online

Yes, it's true: I'm off to be chairman and chief creative at Lowe New York. This ends the popular ad industry pastime of reading my column and picking through the bones of it to try and work out which agency I'll pop up in.

Yes, it's true: I'm off to be chairman and chief creative at Lowe New York. This ends the popular ad industry pastime of reading my column and picking through the bones of it to try and work out which agency I'll pop up in.

I've always said that I wasn't looking to work in any agency, despite the many offers that I am very flattered to have received. I certainly wasn't thinking about America, but anyone who knows me knows that I couldn't resist a tilt at the big leagues.

The 'out of the blue' nature of my coming US experience is evidenced by the fact that we have a three-week-old baby and moved into our new house in North London only two weeks ago.

Other than the amazing array of major clients that Lowe New York have, and the fact that Lowe's my alma mater, the main reason I'm dragging my family to the other side of the world can be summed up in two words: Tony Wright. Wright is the new world-wide CEO of Lowe. He is, as far as I'm aware, the only world-wide CEO who is a planner as opposed to a suit. He is an extraordinary man without an ounce of the schmooze and patter usually associated with the top levels of our business. Uniquely, in my experience, I've never felt I needed a written contract with Tony, just a handshake. I think that sums him up. And I think it sums up much about the Lowe network.

Yes, I have been supportive of Lowe in my column, not least because my good friend Garry Lace took over the running of the London office under a grotesque and unjustifiable amount of ill-judged comment. That said, I'm supportive of every one of the dwindling band of ad agencies and/or networks who still believe that creativity is the single most important thing our industry has to offer.

* Turmoil at AMV-BBDO in London as they shove aside the brilliant Peter Souter and make Paul Brazier executive creative director in his place. This is a bizarre move not least because they're in the middle of the Sainsbury's pitch. This means 1) AMV know they've won it, 2) they know they've lost it, or 3) they don't care.

Though Peter has moved to a world-wide BBDO role, I still think it's a shame: he's a great guy and brilliant creative director. The promotion of his former art director Brazier is a strange move. Having passed Brazier over initially, why would AMV now want to promote him many years later? If he's a brilliant leader and manager then why hasn't he been leading and managing before? Brazier says he knows AMV intimately etc. etc. all the more reason that his appointment is so, well, uninspiring. AMV's 'troubles' such as they've been are almost entirely in the business-winning area and the appointment of a sensitive old-school creative like Brazier strikes me as odd. Then again, certain (usually second-rate) suits are intimidated by creatives with true management ability and business nous. Which can be a shame for the clients. Meanwhile, by the way, Souter's existing deputies Belford and Roberts are sure to walk.

* Meanwhile, rumours reach me that News International is about to move The Sun and News of the World accounts from TBWA into Euro RSCG London after the recent pitch. While those rumours are mainly coming from Euro RSCG London, I for one would be happy for veteran Euro creative supremo Gerry Moira: victory would be a great achievement in the face of pitch competition from Saatchi's Kate Stanners and Publicis' Nick Studzinski, two of the best and brightest creative directors in London.

* New masters of the product placement are Silhouette sunglasses - you know, the ones with the almost invisible spindly frames. David Caruso, star of the hit US TV show CSI Miami is never ever without his no matter what time the action takes place. Recently Caruso has taken to cranking his Silhouettes' impact up by making the glasses a part of all his most dramatic utterances, eg: "I don't think it was an accident...." Pauses. Puts on his sunglasses, perching them on the end of his nose. "I think it was murder," pushes glasses up over eyes as camera closes in and music rises. Genius.

Is there no end to product placement?

Product placement is most effective when the product is just so darn brilliant that you can't keep it out.

For instance, who would you expect to be most hawkish about this commercial practice? The BBC, of course. And yet, last week's Panorama 'Cops and Robbers' contained probably the best piece of product placement seen in the UK this year.

It happened in the scene where they got this cheeky little super-twocker (car thief - keep up) called Danny to break into a car while being timed. It took the slippery little chav about two minutes. They then led him over to a Renault Megane and he just folded his arms and shook his head. "Can't do it. Can't be done," he muttered darkly. The idea that you get your product 'placed' because your product is so brilliant is the Laurence Olivier of brand celebrity.

Increasingly, though, there will be nowhere that cunning creatively-minded people won't infiltrate their brands and products.

I had dinner many years ago with a guy called Geoff Seymour, now sadly no longer with us. He was the first adman to get paid £100,000 per annum when he was at Saatchi - this sum became known as a Seymour.

During this dinner party a radio in the kitchen announced the beginning of Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf and Seymour went into this hilarious monologue about how we should look out for sponsorship logos and marketing slogans on the missiles. Can this be a million miles away?