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Paul Simons: what the Virgin Atlantic account switch means to Adam&Eve/DDB and losing agency RKCR/Y&R

The news that Virgin Atlantic is moving its advertising account to Adam&Eve/DDB is unlikely to surprise many folk close to the UK industry but it’s also a sad day for the losers, RKCR/Y&R. Also it is an interesting shift from the WPP world to that of Omnicom. (Manning Gottlieb/OMD has the media account.)

RKCR/Y&R have had the business for 20 years and it moved from our agency, Simons Palmer, to the then indie RKCR. It was also a sad day for us back then as the move was all over an argument about money; we dug our heels in on getting paid promptly for our work – pointing out that the airline collected money from its passengers long before they actually fly, not after they fly. However that is an old and different story.

Also we have another factor, the new marketing director, an issue I have commented on several times in MAA. Also this review has been going on for five months; I wonder what they have been doing?

Several observers have speculated this move was a slam dunk given the past relationship between the Adam&Eve team and Virgin Atlantic. Having said that, the new marketing director wasn’t associated with the past so maybe this is just idle gossip from various drinking dens in Soho?

What I think is sad for RKCR/Y&R is the passing of 20 years of consistently high quality work, on brand, on message, for such a long time with such great distinction; very few brands manage to accomplish this feat. The 25 year spot ‘Red Hot’ will remain an iconic piece of advertising for a very long time to come; possibly in the same league as Smash Martians (from BMP which became BMP/DDB which eventually became Adam&Eve/DDB).

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However life goes on and the challenge for Adam&Eve now is ‘follow that’. No doubt there will be many observers ready to pounce when new work appears, me included. A big feather in the cap for the folk in Bishops Bridge Road and for DDB I expect as the airline is global.

I also suspect Y&R ultimate boss, Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, isn’t too happy as none of the UK’s major airlines are now in WPP agencies.

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About Paul Simons

Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.

One comment

  1. Paul…
    I’ll lay money that the Poisoned Dwarf is at this minute, assembling “Team Malaysian Airlines.” He can re-purpose all that unused stuff from the Y&R Enfatico broom closet. No wonder he’s worth all those mega-millions.
    Cheers/George “AdScam” Parker

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