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Boots hurries into Ogilvy as WPP deal bites

Well that didn’t take very long did it?

A week after news broke that WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell had stitched up a deal with Walgreens Boots – to save them $100m in marketing costs it seems – the UK creative business, after 13 seemingly happy years at independent agency Mother, has moved to WPP’s Ogilvy.

This is the second big ripe plum to land in Ogilvy’s lap thanks to WPP’s increasing hold over the UK ad business. A few weeks ago Vodafone’s £50m creative account headed to the South Bank too, after deeply uninspiring spells at Grey and, before that, Y&R. Both, oddly enough, owned by WPP. WPP handles Vodafone’s media worldwide.

Ogilvy now has a new regime with Charlie Rudd, formerly of BBH, and Mick Mahoney, ex-Y&R, in charge. Now they may well be just the people to turn Ogilvy into a creative powerhouse but the evidence, to date, is thin. But now they’ve been handed creative on £100m of business in short order. No non-WPP agency got a look in.

Boots and Mother have been pouring tributes on each other post-move but, in reality, Mother boss Robert Savile must be spitting tacks and it’s another grim reminder to Boots’ UK management that the business is now run out of the US and they’d better get on with it. They must be fearful in Boots’ UK manufacturing base of Nottingham that No7 and the like will soon be made in Costa Rica or wherever’s cheapest.

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Clients can do what they want and holding companies have to pursue their business goals. But UK advertising and media is no longer a level playing field and this sorry business shows it more starkly than ever.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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