It’s all rather depressing really, a new agency comes on the scene, scores highly (in this case with one account) and then sells out at the top of what might be a very short market.
But that’s what seems to have happened with John Lewis agency Adam & Eve (itself a breakaway from RKCR/Y&R whose founders trousered a small fortune by selling to WPP) which is reported by Campaign to be selling to Omnicom for £60m.
Which is a hell of a lot for one account. A&E has others of course, most notably Foster’s, but, even so, £60m looks toppy in the extreme. The reported figure presumably includes an earn-out deal.
A&E (the agency would like to be known as A+E rather than ‘accident and emergency’) is to be rolled into DDB London which has struggled recently despite producing a steady stream of outstanding work for biggest client Volkswagen. Last year it lost £36m Virgin Media, an account that has pitched the agency into turmoil as it was supposed to demonstrate the benefits of a new ‘integrated’ positioning.
I’m never quite sure what ‘integrated’ actually means for an agency that starts with advertising. It works for below-the-line agencies who also venture into ads but the other way round? Among other things, this meant DDB merging digital arm Tribal DDB into the main agency, which also seemed a bit daft. DDB is a strong ad brand, Tribal DDB a strong digi brand. Why confuse matters?
But there you go.
Would A&E founders David Golding, James Murphy and Ben Priest have succeeded in building up a rival to, say Mother, if they’d stuck to their last? Maybe the money roller-coaster seemed too trepidatious. Right at the start they had to cough up the best part of a million quid to WPP for approaching Y&R clients within their notice periods. It’ll be interesting to see what their roles will be at DDB.