I remember a rum do a few years back when Pepsi put its account up for pitch.
The incumbent was BBDO, who had done Pepsi’s advertising since the year dot, so this was a big deal: one of the biggest, deepest relationships in advertising in danger of coming to a conclusion.
In the end it came down to a shoot out between BBDO and TBWA, which was eventually won by TBWA. Jaws dropped, tears were shed and hands were wrung; the shockwaves were felt across the US advertising community.
Except for one man’s office.
I don’t know exactly what happened when John Wren read the news, but I have a feeling he stifled a yawn, scrolled down to the next email and asked his PA to book somewhere nice for lunch. For those of you that don’t know, John Wren is the head of Omnicom, the holding company that owns such agency networks as DDB, BBDO and, yes, TBWA.
So when that massive account left BBDO for TBWA, it made little difference to Omnicom’s bottom line. The cash continued to flow in from Pepsico, through an ad agency and into the coffers of Omnicom. I guess it made a happy difference to the good people of TBWA who could celebrate a massive account win, award bonuses and point to a capacious bottom line. And I suppose it would have made an unhappy difference to the poor chaps at BBDO, who had to explain away the loss, maybe lay a few people off and promise to do better for Omnicom in the next quarter (possibly overcompensating for the reduction in income by winning an even bigger account, just to show that this setback was not going to be a substantial one). But John would have remained just dandy.
For a quick and easy demonstration of how this works, examine the following image:
Those the vats are, for example, BBDO, TBWA and DDB, and the beer is flowing in reverse up to John Wren’s office.
Now that, my friends, is how to run a company (if you want to make a ton of cash).