Advertisements
 

Aviva makes a laughing-stock of itself

April 30, 2009

 

A real case for name change

A real case for name change

When it comes to media-stoked ridicule, there’s nothing quite like a corporate rebranding exercise. Who could forget the spendthrift waste that was the BT piper? Or the grotesquely expensive if temporary transformation of the Post Office plc into Consignia?

Aviva, formerly Norwich Union, is proving no different. £80m and several years later we have irate shareholders berating the Aviva board over  Ringo Starr and Bruce Willis being such a waste of space. I must say I have some sympathy. Couldn’t they have chosen some slightly more interesting examples of necessary name changes in the ads, such as Archibald Leach into Cary Grant and Marion Morrison into John Wayne?

But that’s an aside. As a global company harbouring a rag bag of national names, the case for a corporate rebranding at Aviva was overwhelming. It’s just such a pity they ended up with a bland Latinism that sounds more like a brand of fish aquarium than a serious financial institution.

Now Norwich Union, there was a name to conjure with. When Lord Sharman, chairman of Aviva, defended the rebranding he claimed that the insurer’s brand awareness had grown from 35% to 80%. Only if you count in countries that had never heard of Norwich Union in the first place, I suspect.

Postscript: Is Lloyds going the same way as Aviva? It has already started a cull of HBOS brands by putting Clerical Medical on death row.

Advertisements

Phew! Thank God McLaren got away with it!

April 30, 2009

An orgy of self-congratulation on the Formula One circuit over how mild and judicious the sanctions imposed on the “Liegate” McLaren team have been. Only a suspended three-race ban, the emphatic word being “suspended”. So, back to the track.

That will be a huge relief for McLaren’s sponsors. And for none more than Spanish Banco Santander. Had McLaren really been banned from the next few races, the embarrassment would have been incalculable. The next two fixtures are taking place at, let’s see, Barcelona and Monaco: home grounds for the many Spanish fans who are either real or prospective Santander customers. A no-show by Santander’s vastly expensive F1 team wouldn’t have looked a clever investment of the punter’s money, would it?  At best it might have provided a timely explanation as to why Santander is abandoning McLaren next season in favour of Ferrari.

More on F1 machinations in my column next week.


A pig of a rebranding problem

April 30, 2009

How very correct of US health and agricultural officials to concern themselves with the rebranding of “swine flu”. This sloppiness with language simply won’t do. People are getting the idea they can catch the sometimes lethal disease directly from pigs, which they can’t. The result has been pandemonium in international pork markets, with countries such as Russia and China placing a ban on imports from Mexico and some US States.

Ring a bell? Yep, people thought just the same about bird flu, which caused chicken and turkey sales to plummet, nearly destroying the ‘bootiful’ Bernard Matthews brand in the process.

So let’s rebrand by all means. Only H1N1 doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue does it? And how’s it going to be done? Any ideas, please?


About this blog

April 29, 2009

Hello

And welcome to my Marketing Week blog. It’s new but I’m not. Until the end of last year, I was editor of Marketing Week and, as such, filed a weekly internet column called Editor’s Viewpoint. This blog will take up some of the themes I addressed there: topical issues, big and small, trends in marketing and how they relate to the wider business environment and, not least, the occasional take on industry personalities – respectful or otherwise. Most entries will be smaller (you’ll be relieved to hear) than my maiden outing into the Locog ad account saga (below). But, I hope you’ll agree, it’s an issue with many strands…


McCann pips WPP to Olympics trophy

April 28, 2009

Brett Gosper: Dark HorseWhat a dark horse Brett Gosper is. The EMEA president of McCann Erickson successfully kept us in the dark, until a week ago, about a McCann-fronted Interpublic bid for Locog’s prestigious 2012 Olympics advertising account. Now he’s stolen it from right under WPP’s nose.

From the beginning of the pitch, WPP had looked a shoo-in. It was one of a remarkably small circle of contenders that had the power and scale to handle what in effect is a piece of global business.
True, the much smaller Chime beat it in a duel for the initial 1-year marketing communications package. But that was a blip. Chime (though part-owned by WPP) simply didn’t have the resources to win part 2   – the much bigger bit of business spanning the 3 years up to the Games themselves.  And it showed when, despite a competent performance as incumbent, it was one of two to be eliminated from the frame last week, leaving McCann and WPP.
Even so, no one would have put much money on McCann winning. WPP, now the world’s largest marketing services network, is a far stronger organisation than Interpublic – which has been severely mauled over the past few years.
In addition, WPP’s boss, Sir Martin Sorrell has invested a lot of personal energy in winning the account. The fact that he was actually present in Singapore when the British team, featuring David Magliano and Sir Keith Mills, won the bid to hold the Olympics in London gives something of the flavour of his enthusiasm. For WPP, a win would have been a way of juxtaposing one very British success story with another – its own.
Why did it lose? The devil is in the detail. Locog’s is no ordinary ad account. Though worth a notional £10m over 3 years, this £10m is in fact a benchmark figure for which competing agencies had to tender (as did other services, such as the Locog accountants, Deloitte, and the Locog solicitors, Freshfields).
Agencies were invited to provide services in kind – such a media buying, content, creative ads, sponsorship. If Locog ends up spending over £10m, the winning agency will be quids in, because above that amount it will be conventionally rewarded. If, on the other hand, Locog were to underspend, the winning agency will have to underwrite the difference, and that would mean coming up with cash.
It can be readily  seen that this is an expensive but finely judged gamble, and one which may cause collateral damage to the winning network’s normal commercial activities. Though there is glory in getting the business – and a tier 3 sponsorship thrown in – the account could easily turn into a poison chalice.
Sorrell was prepared to take that chance, but was incensed that Locog had spun off the more profitable research part of the business (worth another ‘£10m’) as a separate account (for which, by the way, WPP is not competing).
Failure to strike a deal over this vexed issue was one reason why WPP lost out in the final pitch. In the end, however, it was outbid by McCann, which was prepared to provide more services at a lesser notional price. How it is going to afford this more generous offer is another matter.

Sorrell pipped at the post in Olympics pitch

April 28, 2009

Much consternation in Farm Street, Mayfair, as McCann-Erickson, backed by IPG, wrests the Locog advertising account from its ‘rightful’ owner, WPP.

From the beginning of the pitch, WPP had looked a shoo-in. It was one of a remarkably small circle of contenders that had the power and scale to handle what in effect is a piece of global business. True, the much smaller Chime beat it in the duel for the initial 1-year marketing communications package. But that was a blip. Chime (even if it is part-owned by WPP) simply didn’t have the resources to win part 2   – the much bigger bit of business spanning 3 years to the Games themselves.  And it showed when it was one of two to be dropped from the frame last week, leaving McCann and WPP.
At the time, no one much rated McCann’s chances of success. WPP, now the world’s largest marketing services network, is a much stronger organisation than Interpublic – which has been severely weakened over the past few years. In addition, WPP’s boss, Sir Martin Sorrell had invested a lot of personal energy in winning the account. The fact that he was personally present in Singapore when the British team, featuring David Magliano and Sir Keith Mills, won the bid to hold the Olympics in London gives the flavour. For WPP, it would have been a way of juxtaposing one very British success story with another – its own.
Why did it lose? The devil is in the detail. Locog’s is no ordinary ad account. Though worth a notional £10m over 3 years, this £10m is in fact a benchmark figure for which competing agencies had to tender (as did other services, such as the Locog accountants, Deloitte, and the Locog solicitors, Freshfields). Agencies were invited to provide ad valorem services – such a media buying, content, creative ads, sponsorship. If Locog spent over £10m, the winning agency would be quids in, because it would be conventionally rewarded. If, on the other hand, Locog underspent, the winning agency would have to underwrite the difference, and that would mean coming up with cash.
It can readily be seen this is an expensive but finely judged gamble, and one which will be heavily disruptive of a marketing services network’s normal commercial activities. Though there is glory in winning the business – and a tier 3 sponsorship thrown in – the account could easily turn into a poison chalice. Sorrell was prepared to take that chance, but was incensed that Locog had spun off the more profitable research part of the business (worth another ‘£10m’) as a separate account (for which, by the way, WPP is not competing).
Failure to strike a deal over this vexed issue was the main reason that WPP lost out in the final pitch. It may come not to regret that mistake in the next few years.

Paul Lawson plots Burnett breakaway

April 28, 2009

Spring and we’ve already had the first cuckoo in adland, with news of the Garry Lace Robert Campbell start-up  – which opens its doors on May Day.

Of more substance, if it gets off the ground, is a breakaway being hatched at Leo Burnett. This features Paul Lawson, group managing director of Burnett and Arc, plus his executive creative director Jon Burley. The aim is to set up a full service agency offering advertising, planning and buying ‘solutions’.
This is hardly an original formula. Indeed, it bears an uncanny resemblance to Hurrell & Dawson, the agency set up by M&C Saatchi alumnus Nick Hurrell and former TBWA\London chairman Neil Dawson in 2006. Despite its distinguished pedigree and a name-change, the new agency has not exactly covered itself in glory.
There are some reasons for believing the foul-mouthed but capable Lawson may be more successful, however. Lawson’s attachment to media has more to it than a strategic conviction that agencies must, once again, put the ‘full’ back into ‘service’ by reuniting creativity and media under one roof. He was once a media planner himself, at Allen Brady & Marsh, before deciding, like many before him such as Tim Bell and Rick Bendel, that account management was a better route to the top.
The immediate reason for the breakaway seems to be growing disenchantment with Burnett grupenfuhrer Andrew Edwards. Lawson lost out to Australian outsider Edwards in the duel for the top job after Bruce Haines left 18 months ago. Edwards, it seems, is strong on ‘below-the-line’ but not much else; and the personal chemistry isn’t great either.
So what’s holding Lawson and Burley back? Absence of a planner – a professional one, that is. Edwards Groom Saunders might have fitted the bill perfectly. It had talent, in the form of Jez Groom, Peter Edwards and Will Saunders, but lacked traction as an independent communications agency. Unluckily for Lawson, it was snapped up by Engine in February.
Mind you, there’s always Mark Cranmer, the former Starcom MediaVest EMEA ceo, currently consulting at Aegis. He’s said to be looking for a new challenge. More of that soon…

%d bloggers like this: