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BHF boss dumps Grey London – that’s what new clients do, even though everybody else loves the ads

I don’t know why agencies bother working for charities – yes I do, they might win some plaudits and awards.

But I see that the British Heart Foundation has dumped Grey London, which has produced an excellent campaign featuring former soccer hard man Vinnie Jones (now a Hollywood actor, allegedly).

Why? It says it wants to save money – well, don’t we all?

And? Well it’s appointed a new CEO, one Simon Gillespie, a healthcare lifer apart from a spell in the Royal Navy, it seems. A BHF muppet says: “We’ve had a highly profitable and rewarding journey with Grey London over the past six years, and the relationship remains the longest with an agency in our history. The agency continues to do a fantastic job.

“However, it is our responsibility to make every penny count in our fight for every heartbeat, and following the appointment of CEO Simon Gillespie in March last year, we decided to re-evaluate our agency relationships to that extent.”

‘Re-evaluate our agency relationships to that extent’ – what on earth does that mean? ‘Fight for every heartbeat?’ Leave it out, guys. Is Grey costing too much? Or does Mr Gillespie want to make his mark in the most visible way possible by changing the ads? One of the agencies on his list is Draft/Inferno, the result of a shotgun marriage between the old DraftFCB and one-time London high-flyer Inferno. Which has yet to prove it can do anything particularly well.

No doubt Grey London is expensive. It’s owned by WPP for goodness’ sake. But it’s done the job.

Jokers the lot of them. If I was running an agency – which, mercifully, I’m not – I’d insist on a break clause of at least a year’s money if the CMO or CEO changed. Once they do, there’s no point in even attempting to continue the relationship.

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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.
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