It was probably always a matter of when not if: adam&eve founders James Murphy and David Golding are following fellow founders Ben Priest and Jon Forsyth out of the now Omnicom-owned agency. The two plan to set up again, probably in 2020 after notice periods and non-compete arrangements have expired.
Murphy (right with Golding ) says it will a “creative company,” for which read agency with some contemporary bells and whistle such as data and technology, not entirely dissimilar to old adversary Sir Martin Sorrell’s new MediaMonks venture. Sorrell, then at WPP, sued Murphy, Golding and Priest when they left the then RKCR/Y&R to set up adam&eve in 2008.
In the intervening years A&E has ruled the London agency roost, regularly winning big accounts, creative awards and numerous Agency of the Year gongs including at Cannes.
A&E sold to Omnicom for an eventual £110m payout in 2012 but has kept up to the momentum since that deal. Murphy says it wasn’t inevitable that they would leave the Omnicom fold and there seem to have been numerous attempts to find new opportunities for them. But all Omnicom’s networks are headquartered in the US and Wendy Clark is now firmly in charge of DDB. A&E has had a new team, headed by Tammy Einav, Matt Goff, CCO Richard Brim and CSO Alex Hesz in day to day charge for over a year now.
Can CEO Murphy and top planner Golding do it all over again? Both are dismayed at the way creative agencies seem to have slipped down the pecking order of clients’ affections in the past five years or so – losing out to media agencies and consultancies among others – and will see it as a mission to restore creativity to the top of that order.
But time has moved on and they’ll need a new formula to rekindle client affections. 2020 seems a long way away but such an absence from the scene doesn’t seem to have affected Nils Leonard’s Uncommon which finally surfaced with some interesting client projects although nothing on the same scale as the original adam&eve which landed clients John Lewis and Halifax in its early days.
Murphy and Golding won’t be short of offers to back them either, assuming they haven’t arranged this already. There aren’t that many really big UK-only clients (banks and retailers being two) so an international connection is probably required. Accenture Interactive or one of the other big consultancies eyeing advertising are obvious options.
Martin Sorrell’s S4C may even be on the phone although, given previous relations, that might be a long shot.
Here are the boys in what may be (but probably isn’t) their new office, shooting for Dolce & Gabbana. Whoops no, saying what they plan to do and rehearsing their best bits from A&E.