RKCR/Y&R has won the UK Premier League account, probably the most high profile new account to come on the market in years.
Almost as sweet for the WPP-owned agency is the fact that it beat adam&eveDDB in the final round. A&E had been a cloud looming over Y&R in the UK ever since three senior Y&R executives, headed by James Murphy now CEO, quit to set up the UK’s most successful and high profile start-up in 2008.
The win is a big boost for Jon Sharpe, Y&R’s new CEO who took over from Ben Kay at the end of last year. Sharpe had to persuade WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell that he should stick with the agency as it was after A&E won the giant Lloyds account from it last autumn. Lloyds had been the subject of a bitter legal dispute between Sorrell and A&E in the breakaway’s early days. When Lloyds put the business out to pitch last year WPP threw in all its resources; Y&R staff headed by Kay, the dashing light cavalry from Grey and the heavies from 49 per cent-owned CHI&Partners.
This is the first major agency appointment by the Premier League, now without a sponsor following Barclays’ decision to end its deal. But the Premier League is awash with money after concluding huge TV deals with Sky and BT Sport and wants to establish itself as a major brand on the world stage. The PL recently unveiled its new logo (above).
Has Y&R turned the corner? These processes are never as smooth as people would like. The agency is still looking for a new ECD but it’s good for Sharpe and co. that they’ve pulled the Premier League without such an appointment, showing that the current team can perform.
As for A&E this is an unexpected reverse. It’s won just about every pitch it’s entered over the past couple of years, about 20 in all. But Murphy and friends still have a regard for the people at Y&R, or Rainey Kelly as they used to call it in their day. Their argument was with WPP’s Sorrell.