Smithwick’s ad shows Adam & Eve effect on DDB

Two years ago or so Omnicom shelled out a maximum £60m for London indie agency Adam & Eve (of John Lewis fame, itself a breakaway from Y&R).

A&E was merged with DDB in London, one of the key Omnicom agency brands which, over here anyway, resolutely refused to grow despite some fine work for the likes of Volkswagen.

DDB had tried to re-invent itself as an ‘integrated’ agency, mainly by absorbing digital bit Tribal into the main agency. One of the main reasons for doing this was to service one of its few big wins, Virgin Media, but Richard Branson & co upped sticks for BBH. Since then Virgin seems to have majored on old-fashioned TV ads (featuring old beardie of course) but there you go.

Anyway in came the newly-enriched Adam & Eve-ites to run the show – which might have been a recipe for complete disaster.

But it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. The agency still has challenges of course, not least that of producing its annual Christmas blockbuster for John Lewis – muck that one up and people would start to question the new DDB all over again. Mind you, the A&E crew managed to win Halifax too, which is worth a lot more than John Lewis.

The work since the merger is what you’d expect from DDB. Not amazing perhaps, but invariably well-crafted and often with a welcome touch of humour.

Here’s one of the latest examples for Irish brewery Smithwick’s. This all seemed rather peculiar at first: how could a venerable Irish brewery you’d never heard of (Ireland’s oldest apparently, predating even Guinness) afford the services of Adam&Eve/DDB, director Simon McQuoid from Gorgeous and post-production wizards The Mill? And afford to run a 60-second commercial.

But, we learn, Smithwick’s is now owned by global drinks behemoth Diageo. Bit disappointing that. Anyway, Diageo seems to be sprucing Smithwick’s up for the export trade (it’s started to sell it in France and it’s always had its fans in Irish Boston).

Apparently it’s a ‘red ale’ so paying The Mill to CGI a red squirrel is a nice (if expensive) touch. And the whole thing is, as we said above of DDB’s current output, well-crafted with a touch of humour. Not too Oirish either.

So Diageo will be happy (judging by the number of versions on YouTube it’s more than happy). And so, probably, is ultimate agency owner Omnicom.

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About Stephen Foster

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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

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    What a load of cobblers. If you had done your research, you would notice that not only was the ad written by a DDB team, it was also directed by a long-standing DDB creative team, and produced by a long-standing DDB producer. This is also classic BMP/DDB character advertising at most.