Mark Wnek: The biggest thing to happen in adland for four years

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The Independent Online

Chairman of TBWA until yesterday morning when he resigned, Trevor Beattie is the biggest figure in a UK advrtising industry sorely lacking big figures.

Beattie McGuinness Bungay (BMB), the new company Beattie has launched on general election day and calls "more than just an ad agency", is the biggest thing to happen in UK adland since, well, the last general election day four years ago when Johnny Hornby and Simmon Clemmow, managing partners of TBWA, left to form their agency, CHI. Beattie's two partners in BMB, Andrew McGuinness and Bill Bungay, were chief executive and deputy creative director of TBWA respectively.

I spoke to an emotional Beattie yesterday, moments before he was due to break the bad news to the agency staff he is leaving after 15 years. I was less than pleased with my old mate because only last week he had assured me that, contrary to rumours, he wasn't leaving TBWA and I echoed his robust denial in my column. But it seems he genuinely didn't believe he would be going alone until the end of the year, until certain factors - not least the talismanic nature of general election day for Beattie, the Labour Party's adman - conspired to change his mind.

Critics maintain that one of those factors was the eagerness of Andrew McGuinness - on rocky ground at TBWA following losses of Abbey National and News International accounts - to get his pal Beattie to go now.

Whatever the truth, the move is very bad news for TBWA London after its recent run of big client defections, with clients such as FCUK, McCain and the Labour Party at the very least bound to be following events extremely closely.

My prediction? The only move of sufficient stature to instantly stop the bleeding is nothing other than TBWA's immediate purchase of Clemmow and Hornby and their thriving agency. Could be a huge payday coming up for the CHI boys.