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WPP’s new Taxi buy brings much-needed Revlon business to Young & Rubicam

Do the right deal and it nets you lots of money. We’ve seen it recently with Dentsu’s Mcgarrybowen winning Sears and Burger King and now Taxi, the Canadian agency bought by WPP late last year, has paid its second dividend to its new owner by helping to land a big chunk of Revlon business for embattled network agency Young & Rubicam.

The first dividend was winning a place on the VW European roster last month via Taxi’s Amsterdam office.

Y&R has had a torrid time recently, losing New York Boss Hamish McLennan (who decided he’d rather do something, anything, else) and a string of accounts. $360m Sears moved to Mcgarrybowen from Y&R Chicago, putting that particular office in doubt.

But now Taxi, the Toronto agency founded 20 years ago by Paul Lavoie and Jane Hope, has teamed with Y&R to land most of Revlon’s $260m ad business, previously handled in-house.

Revlon will be a tough one of course, the extra costs of an agency will be examined minutely by Revlon’s bean counters. And the perfume company hasn’t a great recent advertising history, struggling to replicate the success of the famous ‘Charlie’ campaign back in the 1970s.

But Revlon, founded by the legendary Charles Revson who died in 1975, has recently hired former Coca-Cola executive Julia Goldin as CMO and new CMOs, especially ones from Coca-Cola, like their ad agencies.

Taxi and Y&R are to work as a ‘WPP team’ on the business. WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell has tried this numerous times in the recent past and, in most cases, it hasn’t worked.

The biggest failure was Enfatico, the agency he designed around Y&R to handle Dell.

But Sir Martin doesn’t give up easily and maybe Revlon, with its recent culture of in-house advertising, will prove more amenable than the likes of Dell and Samsung, which also abandoned a WPP team model.

Maybe new buy Taxi will succeed in driving this relationship.

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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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