Is Diageo’s decision to review Smirnoff out of JWT a big problem for agency boss Bob Jeffrey?

Mega-booze company Diageo is reviewing Smirnoff vodka out of JWT after years at the WPP-owned shop, the last thing JWT needs after Mondelez International (the Attila the Hun of the international marketing fraternity) abruptly wrenched Halls cough sweets (and candies, depending on which market you’re in) out of the agency to give it all to Wieden+Kennedy London.

This is a big problem for JWT boss Bob Jeffrey (left), who can’t afford to lose these accounts.

Apparently the Smirnoff pitch is going to be a Diageo roster affair; its other agencies include BBH, Anomaly, Mother and Grey, WPP’s most successful agency of the moment. So tough competition – JWT is repitching apparently; I wouldn’t.

J. Walter Thompson, as it was then known, was the most famous ad agency in the world before Sir Martin Sorrell’s Wire & Plastic Products (WPP) bought it in the 1980s. They introduced Brooks Brothers button-downs to London and also helped to invent account planning; so they were pretty important.

But since then it’s been pretty much downhill all the way for JWT although Sorrell still puts them forward as WPP’s lead agency. They were down to the last four for Tesco in the UK for example (it went to Wieden+Kennedy) although Sorrell’s personal appearance at a ’tissue’ meeting seems to have scuppered their chances.

Jeffrey’s position must be under review although it’s not his fault. JWT’s status has diminished alarmingly even as owner WPP’s has risen.

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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.

One comment

  1. Bob Jeffrey is one of the nicest guys remaining in what has increasingly become a business for douchenozzles, fucktards and accountants – All the same thing I suppose. He does have the misfortune to be working for the Poisoned Dwarf, who will ruthlessly cut his throat if it will improve the bottom line. Whereas, If he was working for Michael Roth over at IPG he could lose every account, fire all the talent whilst keeping all the arse kissers, then dynamite the JWT building on Lexington. Meantime, Michael would award himself yet another “performance” bonus. As a WPP shareholder (5 shares) I shall have to apply pressure on Sir Martin not to fuck things up… Yeah, right!
    Cheers/George

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