New blow for McCann London as it loses Nescafe to Publicis

It hasn’t been particularly good year for McCann Erickson London as it’s lost phone maker HTC to Mother before it even had time to produce a campaign, Dulux, where it was minding the shop, to Bartle Bogle Hegarty and now decades-old client Nescafe to Publicis.

McCann London has handled Nescafe since the 1970s at least and used to have an iron grip on the account despite the presence of Publicis, Nestle’s most favoured agency, always floating in the wings.

The business, which includes Nescafe and Gold Blend, is worth a reported £8m but Nescafe alone used to spend many times this in its pomp.

The win will be as big a relief for Publicis London as it is a disappointment to McCann. Publicis has struggled to recapture momentum since losing Asda some years back despite a succession of management reshuffles. Latest to try her luck is new CEO Karen Buchanan from The Red Brick Road.

McCann has been shuffling the management deck chairs too, bringing in Linus Karlsson from Mother New York as chairman and CCO of both New York and London. But many others have tried before to turn McCann into a creative shop and they’ve all failed.

Even the highly-regarded Karlsson must be a little daunted by this latest unwelcome turn of events. His boss at McCann Worldgroup Nick Brien won’t be over the moon either.

McCann is best known on Nestle for its celebrated ‘Gold Blend couple’ ads from the 1980s.

And a bigger load of implausible nonsense it would be hard to imagine but there you go. McCann tried to bring back another couple recently but, hardly surprisingly, it failed.

You can’t imagine Karlsson producing anything in remotely the same vein (unless it was to take the piss out of it unmercifully).

But McCann used to be a kind of IBM of agencies. The stuff wasn’t very exciting but the client never got fired and, mostly, it worked.

New brooms Karlsson and Brien need to get some good stuff out there in a hurry.

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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.