They all laughed when WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell started to put together client-focussed teams from his sprawling empire, to pitch for the world’s biggest clients. The short-lived experiment with WPP’s Enfatico agency for Dell being the cause of the greatest amusement.
But Sorrell (pictured) seems to be having the last laugh now with, ‘Team Bank of America’ winning the humungous $1.5bn Bank of America account (America’s 17th biggest advertiser) from BBDO just a few days after another Team WPP snapped up Coors in the US from DraftFCB.
It’s not clear yet quite which WPP permutation will be handling BofA, its brand agency Brand Union already works on the business but that’s hardly likely to be in overall charge of the advertising.
WPP structures its Team WPP operations in a number of ways: in the UK it recently won News Corporation and Vodafone in ‘closed’ pitches; shoot-outs between WPP agencies with Grey and RKCR/Y&R respectively triumphing. For Ford globally in operates a bespoke agency based on JWT Detroit although there are other bits, the Blue Hive agency for Ford’s Focus and a new, and as yet unnamed agency for luxury brand Lincoln based in New York.
Rivals, large and small, will be spluttering into their lattes as they try to absorb this. Essentially Sorrell has rewritten the old agency rules. By saying, in effect, that if you’re a really big client you deserve a bespoke solution (which only WPP can provide of course) he’s managed to create a proposition that global CMOs, like BoA’s Anne Finucane (pictured), clearly can’t resist. And if you’re running a great agency brand, like WPP’s JWT or Ogilvy or Omnicom’s BBDO tough – the world has changed.
BBDO is obviously mightily pissed off by this, as CEO Andrew Robertson’s memo to staff makes clear.
But Omnicom itself has recently had to submit to client re-engineering to keep business; devising an arrangement between BBDO and TBWA Chiat Day for Pepsi and taking a back seat with Goodby Silverstein to McCann in the new Commonwealth agency set up to handle Chevrolet.
The problem for the other big marcoms companies is that they’re playing catch-up to (currently) all-conquering Team WPP.