As these media giants have changed their Man of the Year accolade to Person of the Year (but still pick blokes) maybe we should be looking for a woman (that ever popular activity).
Hmm, there’s a tough one.
In UK agency land the upper level of AMV/BBDO has long been dominated by gals although new CEO Ian Pearman has crashed the top table recently. But AMV, although it will surely end the year as the UK’s biggest agency yet again, has hardly had an outstanding year.
Since buying Cadbury for £12bn she’s seen the company move back to growth (almost entirely through sales of Cadbury products) and annoyed British politicians and trade unions by closing a factory in Bristol despite saying she wouldn’t (par for the course in takeovers) and moving Cadbury’s tax domicile to Zurich.
She, or her minions, have also instituted a shake-up among the company’s agency line-up, with MDC-owned Crispin Porter + Bogusky emerging as the big winner (with Milka and Jello) and Interpublic’s DraftFCB the loser.
Kraft has also added Droga5, arguably the world’s hottest shop to its roster, which is not a very Kraft-style thing to do.
So Irene has to be a strong contender, whether we like her or not.
So who are the contenders among the boys?
WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell is always a contender just because WPP is so big and Sorrell is always in the headlines. But it’s been an unusual year for Sorrell in that there have been no big deals although WPP is showing some pleasing signs of robust organic growth, which is not always its way.
Sorrell would say this shows that his acquisitions, most recently Grey and research firm TNS are paying off.
Of the holding company bosses Frenchman Maurice Levy has been the most active, snapping up smallish companies in China, South America and the Balkans, deciding that he wasn’t ready to retire after all (he’s a bit like the French equivalent of Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson in this regard), anointing COO Jean-Yves Naouri as his likeliest successor and buying Francois Sarkozy’s healthcare business and then dumping Sarkozy on Naouri as his assistant (and potential rival for the top job).
He also flexed his muscles to useful effect in the US (no cheese-eating surrender monkey he) with another of our contenders, fast mover Joel Ewanick, the new global CMO at General Motors.
Former Hyundai boss Ewanick blew into GM like the proverbial white tornado, firing newly appointed Publicis from the huge Chevrolet account in facvour of Goodby Silverstein and Partners and sibling Bartle Bogle Hegarty from Cadillac.
Maurice wasn’t having this so Cadillac was promptly moved to Publicis Groupe-owned Fallon. It’s not worth nearly as much as Chevrolet though.
But shouldn’t the winner come from the world of creativity? Sorrell and Levy are only account men writ large after all (well to a degree they are) and Euro RSCG’s David Jones was arguably the most successful of those in 2010.
2010 may well be viewed as a vintage year for creative work with a handful of indy agencies including Droga5, Crispin Porter, Mother and the UK’s Adam & Eve among the leading lights.
But the most notable work came from South America, in particular from Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi in Buenos Aires where our old friend (and occasional columnist) Pablo del Campo presides over a gaggle of creative stars. If we were awarding agency of the year (which we’re not, this year anyway) Del Campo Saatchi would be a very strong contender.
And we’re also going to overlook the Zuckerbergs, Jobs and Murdochs (pere et fils) too, because you can read all you want about them somewhere else.
“And so the choice of MAA Person of the Year is (where’s that bloody envelope?) Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft.”
Hurry off the stage as the bread rolls and bottles start to fly.