European economy is up so ad accounts (Mini, Sony and part of Douwe Egberts) are on the move

Ad agencies, like all businesses, pore over economic prognostications keenly; recently waiting for some sign that the recession that began with the financial crash of 2008 might be ending.

The UK seems to have returned to some sort of growth (although GDP is still lower than it was in 2010) but Europe has been barely spluttering away. Now some pundits think it might be resuming rather more solid growth – which means that lots of agencies will find their clients suddenly develop itchy feet.

Three such are a chunk of Douwe Egberts coffee business which has moved to M&C Saatchi, Sony Europe which has moved from McCann to Adam&Eve/DDB and BMW-owned Mini which is chatting to agencies about its international business.

Douwe Egberts owner DE Master Blenders has given M&C a gaggle of coffee brands although not DE itself, the only famous one, which seems to be sticking with BBDO. DE CMO Fiona Hughes (who used to be at Mars) told Campaign: “M&C Saatchi has demonstrated how their philosophy of ‘brutal simplicity of thought’ will benefit both how we work and the work that we will produce. I am delighted with their appointment.”

I love a well-trained client. Wonder who wrote that quote? M&C also says the business is worth €150m, which sounds a bit toppy. But the agency is never knowingly undersold.

We should wish Adam&Eve the best of luck with Sony: the Japanese conglomerate may be one of the world’s best-known corporations and, indeed, advertisers but it flits between agencies for no discernible reason. It’s not that long ago that it won every prize going with ‘Bouncing Balls’ from Fallon, not that it did the agency much good.

No client which fails to get the basics of its business right – make money – is likely to be very loyal to its agencies. But Adam&Eve appears to combine formidable account handling skills with its well-known creative attributes. We’ll see.

As for Mini it’s a massively successful brand (despite bringing out ever more lumpy models) and also despite a rather baffling approach to advertising, just like its parent BMW.

You can’t argue with what either brand has achieved but, neither, can you remember the last decent ad for either of them. Lots of the best agencies are already booked by carmakers but there are one or two Brits still waiting in the pits. VCCP, as far as I know, and WCRS of course, which is currently undergoing a BMW creative review for the bits it still has. WCRS used to work on Mini. The sensible thing would be to go back there and say “forget the (client-inspired) gimmicks, just produce a decent campaign.”

But that would be far too boring.

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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.