3 MAY 1975, Page 19


Millions on the move

Philip Kleinman

Advertising people are a talkative lot, greatly given to bar-room gossip and rumour-mongering. They also tend to be people of good education and wide interests, but the one subject which can always be counted upon to make them prick up their ears is simply — accounts, who's gained them, who's lost them and which are likely to be on the move.

When the account in question is a big one, spending more than half a million a year, interest is particularly keen. A few account gains or losses of that size can make or break a medium-sized agency, and the morale of even the biggest shops (which isthe word agencies often use to describe themselves) can be markedly changed by news than an important client has hired or fired them.

And a lot of hiring and firing takes place. The wise adman never assumes that any account is permanently safe, even when the agency has worked for the client for years and produced advertising generally reckoned to be successful. Agencies are always particularly nervous when a client company appoints a new marketing director. The easiest way for such a person to make his or her (but

usually his) weight felt is to fire the agency.

Last week was a particularly notable week for account changes in London's Adland, with three large chunks of bUSiries leaving three well known agencies. The biggest was the Ford car account, reckoned to be worth El million of advertising expenditure this year. Fords did not actually fire its agency, Collett Dickenson Pearce; it was the agency which resigned the account after ' a protracted disagreement over metbods of working. The official story is that the company 'wanted the agency to prepare .,Feveral campaigns at a time between which Fords would choose. CDP refused to comply, and an eight-year association which produced many professionally admired ads, ended abruptly.

At the same time Young and Rui.ncam lost the £800,000 Double JrAamond account, for which it created the "We're only here for the beer" campaign. After a management change in the marketing department of Allied Breweries it was decided that "a fresh approach" was needed, and the business was switched to a smaller agency, the Kirkwood Company.

In the third big switch Ogilvy Benson and Mather lost the £750,000 Worthington E account to Garland-Compton. Interestingly, OBM is this week starting a new campaign on television, for Canada Dry mixer drinks, at which advertising aficionados will be looking carefully for signs of whether the agency will be able to take its revenge for one of the biggest account switches of recent years — that of Schweppes from OBM to J. Walter Thompson.

It was OBM which was responsible for the famous You know who" commercials in which William Franklyn made his imperturbable way through a series of bizarre adventures. The films were among the most entertaining shown on the box, but finally a new marketing director decided that the entertainment was distracting attention from the product, and the account was moved.

Canada Dry, which has been gaining ground on Schweppes, still the market leader in mixer drinks, is spending £50,000 this year on TV advertising. Lo and behold the new commercials attempt an entertaining approach, which is proof enough that OBM is still, a couple of years later, smarting over the loss of Schweppes, for it is in general an agency which eschews humour in favour of hard-sell informative advertising.

The first three commercials tell little stories in each of which a character is mesmerised by a bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale appearing to rotate around a glass. In one case it is a card sharp who is thus mesmerised, enabling another player to catch him out; in a second it is a "secret policeman" whose handcuffed victim gives him the slip; in the third it is a detective (at least I presume that's what he is), whose quarry disappears as he focuses on the drink.

Personally I find the films visually confusing, though client and agency are satisfied with research that shows that others don't. They're certainly not a patch on the old Schweppes funnies. However,

they are blessed with a very tuneful jingle by Roger Greenaway.

Admen will no doubt be swapping opinions about the new campaign in the weeks ahead. But not half so eagerly as they will be alerting each other that "the soand-so account is on the loose." It's a nerve-racking business, but they tell me it's fun.