Paul Simons: is adam&eve the most successful agency start-up of modern times?

Lloyds moving to adam&eveDDB is another client moving from Camden to Paddington; it may have taken a few years but both Virgin Atlantic and Lloyds appear to have rated the A&E team enough to follow them. Pity though that both have gone through the pitch process when the outcome looked predictable. However in both cases being seen to review formally may have been a corporate requirement given the level of spend.

I’m begining to wonder if A&E is the most successful start-up of modern times? I also wonder if Martin Sorrell has any regrets: what could have been different? Instead SMS now has a wobbly Y&R given the huge loss of income following the Lloyds decision. Probably on the same scale as the Tesco move from Lowe to The Red Brick Road and then to BBH. SMS does have a big stake in CHI but it isn’t an agency with the same sex appeal as RKCR/Y&R enjoyed for years, which now seems to been taken over by A&E.

A&E is a bit like a fairy story for most people in adland. It is the stuff that legends are made out of and inspiration for many others to hopefully follow in their footsteps. Although A&E sold to Omnicom they still hold that impression of being an indie and blazing a trail through the UK advertising landscape. I bet there are a lot of people out there grudgingly agreeing.

(LtoR founders: Ben Priest, Jon Forsyth, David Golding and James Murphy)

I strongly believe the most valuable agency asset is the culture that built the reputation in the first place, something to protect at all costs. This is something I sense WPP does not accept whereas I believe Omnicom does, and I have worked in both organisations. Our place, Simons Palmer, won all of BT from JWT when we were no more than four years old and it really scrared me due to the size of the business. It dwarfed all other clients we had in terms of volume of work and income.

My worry was that he who paid the piper would also decide what tune to play and effectively destroy our culture. This can be a core problem with large international agencies, they don’t have one culture, they have as many as they have clients.

Maybe A&E will be like BBH and retain its original culture for a long time to come and continue their upward ascent.

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About Paul Simons

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Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.