Stefano Hatfield On Advertising

'In this business, as in accountancy and law, you can flaunt your ego'
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The Independent Online

O, THE new Lowe agency is to be called The Red Brick Road, after the "other path" Dorothy chose not to take in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz. We, of course, never found out what lay that way, because those damn Munchkins popped up to tell us to "follow the yellow".

I like it - although, in truth, it's relatively simple to find the new agency, opposite the Sun & 13 Cantons pub, in good old Beak Street, Soho. The name is clever, whimsical, modest, provocative and - unless you are a headline writer on Campaign - fairly practical. The value of this last attribute cannot be underestimated after a week in which it became clear that we may never know exactly which leading advertising executives will troop down it.

Mark Cadman, late of JWT, ended up taking the Euro RSCG euro, while the old Lowe agency's creative director Ed Morris is to stay in return for staggering amounts of cash in the sort of whopping total package previously blown only on his partner at Lowe, Garry Lace. That, plus his name above the door whenever they can decide who else's will go up there with it.

Ed Morris did a good ad in his time, but you have to wonder at the madness of it all. Lowe is an agency that is losing its largest account, Tesco, having already seen Vauxhall and HSBC go, among others. It is facing a review of its flagship Stella Artois account, and having laid off around 30 staff, is now, after such... what's a good word? ...failure, proposing to reward a middle-rank creative director for being tempted to leave with a jaw-dropping package of which other loyal, successful executives can only dream.

It is such delicious vanity. In advertising, as in law and accountancy, you can flaunt your ego at will. You can not only have your name above the door, but it can be kept there after you have sold or left - even after you have died. Some people - such as Leo Burnett and Messrs Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty - spend much of their working life making sure that their legacy becomes a brand. Others just take the money and run, leaving their name to wither and die in the supposed care of disinterested successors. That list is far too long to print here, but almost half of it is taken up by Euro RSCG Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer.

Sometimes it gets really confusing. Who was J Walter Thomson, and why have I muddled him in my head with Captain Birds Eye? Did Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury ever really exist, or was it just a number plate on Rupert Howell's Ferrari? Who is Dave Trott, and how come, at one stage, Gold Greenlees Trott and Bainsfair Sharkey Trott employed his name but not his person, which had relocated to Walsh Trott Smith Chick, and promptly disappeared? Saatchis and Delaneys abound, but we all know there is only one Tim and two brothers.

Good luck to Morris if IPG is daft enough. And to all advertising wannabes everywhere: stick your name above the door in neon, for all the difference it will make to the agency's fortunes. In recent times, the only names to have been able to personally bring a significant account with them are Saatchi, Beattie, Hornby and - arguably - Carruthers. Unless, of course, you count Sir Frank Lowe.

GRAHAM DUFF is almost unique in British media advertising. Despite his decade or more in some of the biggest and toughest jobs around, no one has a bad word to say about the man. Being a nice bloke is not reason enough to be handed another big CEO post, of course. Duff has been an effective leader at both Zenith and Granada Enterprises, and then - in particularly trying circumstances - ITV Sales, where he was managing director. Now, he has been asked by the distinctly British global CEO of Universal McCann, Nick Brien, to take the distinctly American job title of president, Universal McCann EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa, since you ask).

It's hard to think of a better choice right now, not just for his understanding of media on both sides of the media owner/media buyer divide, but also because of those very people-management abilities. After a difficult past two years, Universal is beginning its comeback under Brien and the head of IPG Media, Mark Rosenthal. Duff has exactly the mix of stature, toughness and people skills that the role requires.

The first step on the road to recovery is recognising that things are wrong and change is needed. At least Universal has begun that process. Expect more new faces to follow.

NO SOONER had Sir Martin Sorrell delivered his wise words on the state of the advertising world last week (at Grey London), and hopped on a plane to Davos, than the question that he had failed to answer came back to haunt him.

In his inimitable fashion, Sorrell managed to make everyone in the room feel like they had failed O-level geography as he displayed his customary knowledge of The Times Atlas of the World and "Schott's Politics and Economics Miscellany". He was lauding his usual super- soaraway subjects: the internet, market research, China and India. So much so that an innocent question from the audience about the future of "snooty" (his adjective) London creative agencies such as the one we were then in, and how he would attract and talent to them and retain it, got both a big laugh and an uncharacteristically blustery response.

The next day, Mark Cadman and Russ Lidstone quit as managing director and planning director respectively of Sorrell's JWT London to take the long vacant Euro RSCG London top jobs. A curious move, until you remember that a share in the agency was one of the carrots. The new JWT chairman Toby Hoare now has a lot of executive fishing to do in an increasingly destocked talent pool (Nigel Long, anyone?). Sorrell has promised to tell me over lunch why the London creative industry should not be depressed by his analysis. And then, with his permission, I can tell you.

AS SURE as winter follows fall in Minnesota, Paul Silburn was never going to last as executive creative director of Fallon US. This is not about talent, but geography. He should have borrowed Sir Martin's atlas.

A warning to the endless succession of Brits who are tempted by the Yankee dollar: study the map. New York is not America! Nor is LA, Miami, even San Francisco, ie, the places we visit for fun. Most of America lives in the vast bit in the middle where, to the bemusement of coastal liberals and much of the rest of the world, they vote for George Bush, are supersized, and have never owned a passport.

American companies based there regard people from New York as an alien life form, let alone we Europeans. Trust me, I worked for one. Be particularly wary when they say, "We want to change, and we want you to be the change-agent". That they can even utter such words with a straight face should be warning enough.

So, when Pat Fallon, American advertising icon, fired Silburn abruptly after just 11 months, during which the Fallon US agency lost BMW, Dyson and Lee Jeans, the only person who could have been surprised would be that same change-agent.

However, after 11 months in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and with the prospect of the brutal, long winter months stretching before him, Paul Silburn has wised up. "I feel really happy to be going home," he told Campaign, in stark contrast to the usual platitudes that appeared in the American press. Then: "I feel like Terry Waite."

Paul, did you never see the movie Fargo?

HATFIELD'S BEST IN SHOW: WHISKAS

To be honest, I don't much care for cats, although it's not the same hate thing like I have with dogs. What's more, I usually can't stand a child's voiceover on an ad. So, this is an unlikely choice. But, although this Whiskas ad will never trouble the scorers at any UK creative advertising awards show, my hunch is that it will charm the pants off the pet-loving British public and shift tons of Whiskas. Which, after all, is the ONLY point of advertising. E-mail Stefanohat1@aol.com with names for the Lowe Lace Morris agency. Here's one to start you off: the Jammy Dodgers.

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