“It’s getting lively again,” someone who’s planning his own contribution said to me the other day, of the London creative agency scene.
Not before time, we chorus, after a veritable slough of despond seemed to be settled permanently over the UK’s ad scene. Almost complete domination by the ad holding companies, themselves struggling against client cutbacks and the consequence of their own follies, had led to a lack of ambition and falling standards.
Some golden oldies seem to have got the message too. VCCP co-founder and creative Rooney Carruthers has resurfaced at Forever Beta as executive chair, partly to handle a big new account the agency says it’s won but can’t yet name.
Mother co-founder Stef Calcraft, undeterred by his brief reign as UK chair of Dentus Aegis Network, has bounced to WPP media agency MediaCom as its creative supremo. Quite what this means we know not but it shows a touching faith on the part of Calcraft in media agencies.
Carruthers (above left with Forever Beta CCO Pablo Areas) says: “I’m joining Forever Beta at such an exciting time. The agency has turned a corner with some extremely interesting plans that I would like to help shape and be part of.” Carruthers also had a stint at indie agency George & Dragon.
VCCP, part of Chime, was one of the most successful start-ups of the past 20 years and appears to have thrived amid all the upheavals at Chime, now private equity owned.
That may be one of the keys to its success. Private equity is just as keen on delivering big profit numbers as the ad holding companies but less concerned about fitting what are sometimes unruly acquisitions into a corporate structure consisting of lots of other agencies. Accenture may have had the same kind of attraction for Droga5.
Sometime next year James Murphy and David Golding’s new agency – now with BBH London CCO Ian Heartfield on board – will surface, probably May.
They may not be trading yet – after their experience with then WPP boss Martin Sorrel when they broke away from Rainey Kelly/Y&R prior to setting up adam&eve they’re wise to keep their heads down – but they’ll cast a shadow over the ad holding companies, struggling to attract talent. Arguably, they’re already changing the weather.