Mark Wnek on Advertising

Sisters of no mercy get their knives out at Campaign
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The Independent Online

When you name the women in UK ad agencies with real executive power you come up with Cilla Snowball and Farah Ramzan, chairman and CEO respectively at AMV BBDO; Kate Stanners, creative director of Saatchi&Saatchi; Helen Calcraft at Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy; Amanda Walsh, CEO of HHCL/Red Cell, Judy Mitchem, new chief marketing officer at Lowe London, and... erm... after that you beginning to struggle a bit.

When you name the women in UK ad agencies with real executive power you come up with Cilla Snowball and Farah Ramzan, chairman and CEO respectively at AMV BBDO; Kate Stanners, creative director of Saatchi&Saatchi; Helen Calcraft at Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy; Amanda Walsh, CEO of HHCL/Red Cell, Judy Mitchem, new chief marketing officer at Lowe London, and... erm... after that you beginning to struggle a bit.

One place in adland where women totally rule is Campaign magazine, with editor Claire Beale, deputy editor Francesca Newland (sister of Telegraph editor Martin) and executive editor Caroline Marshall. You might think this would provide a welcome boost for women looking to make it to the very top, particularly in an industry where - sad, but true - the way things are spun in Campaign magazine can mean a lot. You might be wrong. In Campaign's "Water-cooler monitor" last week, women readers were horrified to learn that, according to Campaign, one of the topics allegedly being hotly discussed up and down the ad industry was how upset M&C Saatchi were to be losing Judy Mitchem to Lowe London, "especially having forked out for her two recent maternity-leave periods".

How could the ad industry have been talking about this? Was it suddenly privy to the minutiae of Mitchem's contractual arrangements? No. Such "information" could only have been fed in from M&C Saatchi (unless Campaign invented it, which seems unlikely). Sour grapes at M&C Saatchi at losing one of their very best is one thing, but which caring, sharing feminist at Campaign regurgitated the implication that receiving maternity pay disqualifies a woman from furthering her career elsewhere, and that awarding maternity pay is somehow an act of corporate philanthropy and not an employee's right. Saucer of milk for M&C, back copies of Spare Rib for Campaign's editorial grandes dames.

Did you know that comedian Vic Reeves was the voice behind the animated bulldog in the Churchill Insurance TV campaign? I didn't until he got tanked up, drove his Jag into his neighbour's Peugeot with her still in it and ended up splashed all over the front page of The Sun. Before the due process of law could even begin to swing into action, Churchill responded to the story by immediately jumping in and cancelling Reeves' contract and all the massed villagers cheered and brandished their hastily made torches of burning tallow in the air. I know that Reeves has been more than stupid, but am I the only one who is left feeling not entirely positive about Churchill after this?

Back to M&C Saatchi, I notice they've promoted Richard Alford to managing director this week. Richard used to work for me many years ago and when he left I was sorry to see him go. Plummy-voiced and eccentric, he reminds me a bit of Sebastian Flyte's camp mate in Brideshead Revisited. Richard is extremely sharp, terrific company and knows a good advertising idea when he sees one. Above all, he is an original in industry which has always thrived on originals and is currently dangerously low on them.

Ad people are always talking about integration and big ideas crossing media, but very rarely come up with anything concrete on the subject. My old boss Bob Schmetterer is one of the few people ever to truly walk this integration talk. He even wrote a book about the subject called Leap. My favourite example in the book is the one about the Argentinian agency in a pitch for a shopping-mall account. The shopping mall in question was across a river in a bad part of town. The winning agency's idea wasn't TV or posters or press. It was to build a bridge that would connect people directly to the mall and would be an architectural feature in itself.

The ability to think this way is something ad agencies are uniquely positioned for and yet few do so, preferring instead to plough the old furrow of, "The answer's a 30-second TV commercial, now what's the question?". Enter Callaway, the golf-equipment maker, with one of the best ideas I've heard of in ages. They've just finished a promotion in the US based around their top golfer, US Masters champion Phil Mickelson. The promotion was called "If Phil wins, you win". Anybody buying a new Callaway driver between 18-30 March gets their money back if Mickelson wins the Masters again next week. Sales more than quadrupled. Genius.

Boy wonder wins with French flair

My old boss Bob Schmetterer had several claims to fame. Not least being part of the ad agency voted most likely to give telephone receptionists lockjaw: Euro RSCG Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer in New York. His main achievement, however, was to be a true pioneer in integration, that is the belief that ad agencies should be coming up with powerful business-transforming ideas which were - excuse the phrase, but it's one of adland's favourites - media neutral.

Bob furthered the careers of those who shared his philosophy. He particularly loved David Jones, then the (obscenely) young CEO of Euro RSCG in Australia. Jones made his agency Australian integrated agency of the year and then overall agency of the year. No mean achievement for a bloke who was about 19.

After Schmetterer's retirement from advertising, David Jones went to the US to become CEO of the New York agency. Soon afterwards they won the huge Charles Schwab financial services account. Now - against many of the best ad agencies in the UK, nay the world - Jones has masterminded Euro's win of the $100m Jaguar worldwide account.

You probably hate Jones, the over-achieving blighter by now, but it gets better. The thing is, Havas, the holding company which owns Euro RSCG, is extremely French and, while acknowledging the importance of the US, has always had a love/hate relationship with it. Jones has got that covered too: his beautiful wife is French and he speaks the language fluently.

WNEK'S BEST IN SHOW: BOUNTY KITCHEN TOWELS

I've long been an admirer of Bounty kitchen towels' League of Gentlemen-inspired transvestite frontwomen Brenda and Audrey (B&A). The latest in the series created by agency Publicis UK is a corker. In the 30-second spot B&A launch Bounty Glass & Surfaces, multipurpose cleaning gunk, in Amsterdam which, according to the voiceover featuring Paul Whitehouse with a Dutch accent, has some of the dirtiest windows in the world. The gag is that the windows, which the "ladies" set about cleaning, are the ones in the city's famous red-light district that nightly proffer a selection of scantily clad prostitutes (so they tell me). Racy, witty, memorable, hard-working stuff.

mark@adguru.co.uk

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