Stefano Hatfield on Advertising

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The Independent Online

Yes, in the 17 months since he bailed controversially on his three month-old Ben Mark Orlando start-up to join Euro, there have been account losses, most notably the £35m Argos business, the British Heart Foundation, and being dropped from the COI roster. But these were mitigated by victories such as News International (but for how much?), Superdrug and LG electronics. There's more to it than numbers - as Langdon would know.

Unsurprisingly, given his track record, some well-known executives have departed the agency in Langdon's time, notably Nigel Long, Adam Leigh and Joe Boyd. He is not famous for his people-handling skills; nor for advancing other senior executives' careers.

While he can undoubtedly win new business wherever he goes, his failure (lack of inclination?) to nurture a positive personal image in the industry eventually reflects detrimentally on the agency with which he is associated at the time. Langdon is a smart man, so surely he must know that his renowned abrasiveness alienates many staff. It's why there is seldom beating of breasts and gnashing of teeth when he - inevitably - moves on.

Langdon does have supporters - most notably headhunter Gay Haines, and new Grey Worldwide CEO Jim Heekin. The latter is often referred to as his mentor, because he employed Langdon at McCann-Erickson and Euro RSCG. In public, Langdon will simply blame his association with the outgoing Heekin for his ousting, but if it were just about numbers why on earth should it be inevitable that Jones remove him? Incoming CEOs need all the good managers they can get, and if management was just about new business, then Langdon can hold his own with most.

Beneath the bluster and bark, Langdon is a complex character. It would be refreshing to write about him without being threatened subsequently. But it is hard to write about Langdon without feeling like a shrink. Nevertheless, I shall resist all the pop psychology stuff and unlike other commentators, predict he will bounce back. You or I may not admire his uniquely aggressive manner, but someone in the ever more Darwinian ad industry will. Langdon has been built up and knocked down more than most, only to bounce back. He is too driven not to.

AGENCY BOSSES have long bitched about the AAR search consultancy, but until last week when JWT "fired" it, no one was ever brave (or foolhardy) enough to do so in public. When Lyndy Payne, the doyenne of London advertising, was in charge, there was a personal touch to, and control of, the organisation that made speaking ill of it almost sacrilegious. Most would not even dare repeat Payne's conversations (usually at her table in The Ivy), as if she were the Queen - which in many ways she was.

Payne's chosen successor, Martin Jones, the librarian-like former new-business director of JWT, was never held in the same affection and fear as her, but he did maintain the AAR's indispensable status within the industry, despite the ad world's jealous barbs and an apparent private froideur with Payne.

Nevertheless, it successfully absorbed the flak, and the business challenge from David Wethey's Agency Assessments. More recently the Mr and Mrs duo of Alan Thompson and Suki Bunker's Haystack Group has given it more than a run for its money. Only last week it was announced as the consultancy on the review of the Post Office's £17m account.

In the vast and varied US market, it is clear why the almost ubiquitous search consultancies are needed. I've always had more of a problem in the little old UK industry, where you used to be able to know what you needed after a few Ivy lunches (or Langan's, before my time), and Thursday mornings reading Campaign.

But it's not so simple now as drawing up a beauty parade with the incumbent, two big rivals, one creative hot-shop and a start-up (to put the wind up everyone else) on it. As the emphasis on the quality of creative work continues to lessen - although no one admits to it in any survey - issues such as integrated capabilities, network capabilities and, let's be honest, price come to the fore.

From the outside you might assume, given JWT's carping, that Jones and his managing director Kerry Glazer (also ex-JWT) may have fallen over themselves not to be seen favouring their former agency. In the end though, the issue is apparently the £42,000 over the past three years it has spent without - allegedly - getting on one pitch through the AAR. It's possible to view the decision two ways: one, a worm has turned, belatedly; two, the agency is guilty of arrogance on the back of a little new-business run.

I see there is a third explanation: why do you need the AAR when you have your ultimate boss, WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, helping you to your international Vodafone and Samsung new business, and spending last week in China and India trawling for new business with Tony Blair's blessing? It's a long way from The Ivy.

IT GOT SURPRISINGLY little coverage in the still too parochial UK trade press, but perhaps the most significant news of the week was that Crispin Porter Bogusky, the once-little Miami agency regarded as the sexiest in the United States over the past three years, has dropped its Mini account to take on Volkswagen USA. Not only was Mini one of the most internationally awarded of any campaigns anywhere over the past two years, but it proved iconoclastic in its creative use of diverse media.

This year, however, Mini's BMW parent declined to let CPB pitch for its flagship BMW account, meaning the agency could not grow its car business. The VW coup is astonishing, even though the agency already handles Burger King and is on the Coca-Cola roster. What's more, it was bad enough for DDB, which is VW's agency in much of the world, to have lost the account once in the US to Arnold, but now to see it move on to CPB will leave the Omnicom agency furious.

(If you have any suggestions as to what Ben Langdon should do next e-mail me at stefanohat1 @aol.com.) Stefano Hatfield is a former editor of 'Campaign'

Hatfield's best in show: Guinness

I know that the inevitable industry snobs are already coming out of the woodwork to have a pop at these posters from AMV BBDO, because they draw on the famous old Guinness toucan icons. But, to me, they stand out in the cluttered streets of London. I have also seen members of the public stop, stare and chat about them - which is a remarkable achievement for a poster. They are vivid, striking, evocative and arresting, and you can't help but know they are for Guinness. Which is pretty good for a poster really. My favourite is the one where the pelican is at the bow of the ship, Kate Winslet-like. My only problem is I can't stand Guinness (on my one unforgettable trip to Ireland, that made me "the Murphy's man"), so I'm not sure whether the fact that the black stuff we drink here is now imported from Dublin is a good or bad thing.

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