You can’t say it’s unexpected: Nestle recently moved its Nescafe account in the UK from McCann Erickson to Publicis and Publicis has always been Nestle’s favourite agency, not least through the close attention Publicis Groupe boss Maurice Levy has always paid to one of his biggest clients, just across the border in Vevey, Switzerland.
Now Publicis Worldwide, the core agency within Publicis Groupe, has won the global creative from McCann, worth $500m and more if Nestle is in spending mode.
So maybe the move was inevitable but it’s still a big blow to McCann and owner Interpublic. Interpublic’s DraftFCB recently lost 50 years and more client SC Johnson and its $1bn budget to a combo of WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather and Omnicom’s Energy BBDO and it’s a real kick in the teeth to lose another blue chip account.
McCann, thought by many to be the inspiration for Mad Men, was always revered for its account handling skills. The creative might not have been highly rated but the suits put down deep roots with their clients and fought ferociously to hold on to business.
Currently McCann Worldgroup boss Nick Brien, former media director of Leo Burnett in London, is trying to engineer a creative revolution at McCann, led by new hire Linus Karlsson from Mother.
So far the fall-out has been more notable than the incoming business; earlier this week US president Robert LePlae quit.
Publicis also has issues, realising belatedy perhaps that it has to raise its creative game after spending the last few years (and billions of dollars) increasing its stake in digital by buying Digitas, Razorfish and Rosetta.
But the real focus is on McCann. Will Brien and Karlsson be given the time to realise their vision of a new, creative McCann. And is such a beast actually realisable?