It’s been a while since we had a client who, on the surface of it, seemed utterly bonkers – intriguingly most of them seem to originate in the US.
A few years ago we had Joel Ewanick at General Motors whose increasingly eccentric initiatives resulted in a shotgun marriage of Interpublic’s McCann with Omnicom’s Goodby Silverstein in the GM cause, which lasted until Joel received both barrels himself from the GM board.
Before that we had the colourful Julie Roehm at Walmart. Can’t quite remember the details of that except that they were diverting.
Now we have McDonald’s reviewing its US account – which probably means its global account – with various apparent stipulations: no profit; multiple briefs, a 60-day turnaround time and the endless imposition of ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ – even though you and the rest of the world manifestly don’t.
In a piquant twist the consultant on the pitch is Flock, a British outfit formed by Simon Francis, a one-time senior exec at Carat and also at Saatchi & Saatchi. Francis, whose team also includes senior marketers, is no fool: specialising in advising big companies how to reorganise their marketing from the ground up
So why the Torquemada-style approach to McDonalds creative? And why are Publicis Groupe and Omnicom, the two incumbents (WPP has declined to pitch) going along with it? They can’t be that desperate surely?
Maybe the agencies are banking on McD becoming a little more generous if they find an agency they like. Maybe they just want to cover headcount costs, hoping that other clients deliver the profit (most creative agencies have a wodge of unprofitable business). Maybe they think there are crafty ways to make a turn without McD knowing (an old media agency trick).
Or maybe the marketing world has gone nuts in the attempt to get more for less. I suspect this is the real answer.