Looks like it’s goodbye Draft, welcome FCB at IPG

What’s in an agency name? Used to be a load of initials of course, at one time there was a London agency called Beverley Fowler Maslin Oxlade & Starkey (lots of initials, obviously) and then, I think, they added Jenns after a fearsome lady called Mo Jenns was brought in to make sense of BFMO & S. Which all became a bit of a mouthful.

But at least you knew where you were, sort of.

In the intervening decades we’ve had all sorts – Mother, Albion, Naked, Inferno, Orgasm, Point-of-Sale Vagina (I’m making the last two up). Which hasn’t necessarily advanced the case of either approach to such branding matters.

draftfcbNow it seems that Interpublic, the first ad-based marcoms company, is thinking of rebranding DraftFCB (left), the classic horse designed by a committee agency, as FCB or Foote Cone & Belding, as it used to be known when it was one of the founder members of Mad Avenue and a rival to likes of McCann and Y&R.

IPG bought Howard Draft’s big direct marketing agency (Howard is still there, as executive chairman) and merged it with contemperaneous purchase FCB. This was supposed to create a Chicago-based giant that would turn out unscientific old ads (where the money still was) with the whizz-bang certainty of direct marketing. And the result, mostly, has been a disaster.

So, far from being a strong second network to flagship McCann, DraftFCB has been a lemon.

Carter+Murray+XXXNow, however, IPG has installed former Y&R executive Carter Murray (left) at the helm of DraftFCB and Carter is not letting the grass grow under his feet. He’s already bought Inferno in the UK to try to pep up DraftFCB in London (which was in danger of disappearing) and changed the top managers at HQ.

Will FCB cut the mustard for IPG? Who knows? But DraftFCB has been synonymous with one disaster after another; lovingly chronicled by my friend George Parker in Adscam.

A fresh start can be a wonderful thing..

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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.