Can TBWA’s new old gang (latest recruit Paul Weinberger) work some much-needed magic?

There’s a long-running series on BBC1 called New Tricks which features a gang of old ‘tecs (played by the likes of Amanda Redman, James Bolam, Dennis Waterman and other stalwarts of the small screen) teamed up to solve old unsolved crimes.

New TBWA London boss Peter Souter (himself an old AMV hand as the successor to David Abbott as creative director) seems to be assembling an adland equivalent (crime is not involved, of course) to try revive the ever-in-need-of-revival Omnicom outpost.

Souter refers to his team of seasoned creatives as ‘galacticos’ after Real Madrid’s collection of (rather younger) superstars. Which is a neat touch.

And now, joining Walter Campbell, Sean Doyle, Paul Belford and Souter of course, is Paul Weinberger (left) who ‘retired’ from former Tesco agency The Red Brick Road when the giant account moved to Wieden+Kennedy.

Weinberger won’t have a title, says Souter, but will work on newish win Lidl which, along with fellow German discounter Aldi, is hoovering up a big share of the UK grocery market.

Which will raise some not very friendly eyebrows at Tesco as Weinberger worked on that account for decades, first at Lowe Howard-Spink. He is credited with the ‘Every Little Helps’ line that still adorns Tesco advertising (although W+K would surely like to dump it).

One also wonders quite what ECD Andre Laurentino (who likes to be known as ‘Dede’, as they do in Brazil) makes of all these old lags. Creatives of this generation, many of whom are highly talented of course, like to do things their own way – to put it politely.

It’s good to see the likes of Weinberger back in harness but there needs to be enough to do. Souter says the agency is having a good year for new business, so that obviously helps.

But TBWA London has suffered in the past from ‘too many chiefs’ syndrome. The agency today is the product of a seemingly endless series of mergers involving, among others, Holmes Knight Ritchie, Simons Palmer and Gold Greenlees Trott. As one old hand (who didn’t come from any of them) told me recently: “There were more agency bosses in meetings than there were accounts.” In the process the agency lost arguably its biggest asset, high profile creative director Trevor Beattie.

Well we’ll see. At the very least we should see some interesting work emerging from old/new TBWA some time soon.


  1. Hey Stephen,
    I like your provocative, shoot from the hip style, I wish other industry reporters were as bold and carefree.
    But what’s this ‘old’ angle?
    Cards on the table – I’m over 35 and I know everyone of the ‘the old lags’ you mentioned, so I am horribly biased.
    Also, I realise if I come out in their defence, it positions me as an ‘old lag’,
    but I’ll have to take that risk.
    The general implication in your article was ‘why all the old people? why not get some fresh, young ones?’
    You point out that the TBWA ‘Galacticos’ are older than their Real Madrid counterparts, but creating good marketing doesn’t require good upper body strength, legs like tree trunks and being agile enough to turn on a sixpence. (Besides, take at Gareth Bale’s online folio, it’s rubbish, full of puns and knob gags, and as for Ronaldo’s? He can’t even spell.)
    I know it plays better in the trade press to hire Creative people from exotic foreign locations with unpronounceable names, but it doesn’t always play well in the actual agencies.
    Creative isn’t just creating ‘some cool stuff’.
    Like Planning and Account Handling, it’s about building businesses, there aren’t lot’s of people who have proven track records in doing this, consequently, it’s impossible to hire too knowledge and experience in that area.
    Besides, if I were the Marketing Director of Aldi, I’d be cart wheeling down the corridors at the news of Paul Weinberger joining to work on my business, there’s probably no better person in the country to take them on the journey from cheap supermarket chain to the major chain, he’s done it before.
    I don’t normally do this, but this is the second time you blighters at More About Advertising have got me writing in, keep up the good work.
    P.S. I couldn’t help noticing that you yourself are in fact over 35.

  2. Maybe old lags was a bit needlessly rude Dave

    And I certainly don’t take the view that older types shouldn’t be in agencies, rather that the business has dispensed with far too many of them.

    I just wonder if TBWA’s current collection is the right way to revitalise the agency long term.

    But, then, I don’t have a better plan…

  3. Paul Weinberger is a very talented writer and creative director and his work has been pivotal to the phenomenal success of one of the UK’s biggest brands. Every Lidl helps! I unreservedly support Dave Dye’s view that you can’t get enough of real ability plus serious experience. One does tend to find that powerful combination in those who have done quite a bit and thus tend to be over 25. I rather think any client would be very reassured to have someone of Paul or Dave’s weight on their business. Stephen’s point that there have been too many of the ‘maturer’ creatives leaving the business is spot on. I’d go so far as to say that actually, the collection of senior people at TBWA is exactly what is needed in the business right now. I must say I haven’t noticed too much great creative emanating from the young groovesters at most of the ‘cool’ (digital) agencies recently. Let’s see.

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