New Y&R boss David Patton has made his first big move, changing the name of the London agency from RKCR/Y&R to Y&R.
Unless you’re a student of the wonderful world of agency nomenclature you may think: so what?
But Patton, who now runs Y&R outside the US having moved from fellow WPP agency Grey, is trying to bring a nighmarish few years at RKCR/Y&R to a close. The trouble all started when James Murphy, Ben Priest and David Golding, then RKCR/Y&R’s management team (still with me?) upped sticks to set up adam&eve (now adam&eveDDB).
WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell sued them – unavailingly in the end – while RKCR/Y&R under then CEO Ben Kay was left out on a limb – depending to a degree on clients who would sooner be with adam&eve, most notably Lloyds Bank, which finally moved to adam&eveDDB (blimey this is tiring) last year. Jon Sharpe succeeded Kay and has brought in Jonathan Burley from CHI as ECD.
Sorrell had bought indie agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe for an estimated £25m way back in 1999 (only chairman Roalfe is still at the agency) and, for a while, it succeeded in reviving Y&R which had never really cracked the big time in the UK although, being a part of a vast international network it handled lots of international business. But any agency based on an infusion of external talent is vulnerable to breakaways of its own.
Now Y&R has, wisely no doubt, given up trading on past RKCR glories. This presumably also means that Sorrell has given up on the notion of parachuting Johnny Hornby’s CHI (49 per cent owned by WPP) into Y&R, RKCR-style.
Separately, Alison Hoad, who resigned from Y&&R before Christmas, has emerged as the new CSO at BBH, another agency trying to recapture past glories without, mercifully, feeling the need to change its name.