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Sun 20 Nov 2005 04:00 AM

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The vampire’s come round for a cup of tea or two

I’ve always been a big fan of the movie The Lost Boys; I rely on it for most of my information about vampires.

The vampire’s come round for a cup of tea or two|~||~||~|I’ve always been a big fan of the movie The Lost Boys; I rely on it for most of my information about vampires.

Apparently, they can’t come into your house unless you invite them over your doorstep. And if you are stupid enough to invite the blood-sucking fiend into your home for a nice cup of tea, then you pretty much deserve everything that follows.

So don’t feel too sorry for me when I tell you that I think I’ve just invited a vampire over my doorstep — it’s my own fault.
You’ll find the creature of the night disguised as our market data page.

As we hit our six-month anniversary this week (no, really, no cards or presents thanks) it seems like a good time to offer a round-up of who’s doing well in the new business stakes. Just a quick summary of announced new business wins so far this year. A straightforward idea, n’est pas?

So why has my deputy Richard, the poor sucker who’s been gathering the information, been begging for us not to enter into the madness? Like every good horror movie, at the point of writing this, there’s still time to flee. But no, I’ve learnt nothing.

You see, we’re repeating history. In the UK market, the new business league tables appear in virtually every magazine about the marketing and advertising industry. A whole mini PR discipline has sprung up around them.

A media agency might announce, with a big fanfare, a £20 million account win. This, of course, doesn’t mean they’re getting an income of £20 million, just that this is in theory the amount they’ll be spending on behalf of the client. The losing incumbent will mutter that actually the account is nearer £5 million. And splitting the difference, into the league table will go £10 million, propelling the agency up the rankings.

There are also cries of foul from agencies that don’t announce their wins for reasons of client confidentiality and feel cross that they are losing out in the table as a result.
And, of course, it doesn’t measure account losses. Particularly for high volume, high turnover agencies, selling their (often shoddy) services cheaply, they can look better than they really are, despite the churn rate.

So why get into such aggro here?

The tables, unscientific as they are, serve a useful purpose. The number of account wins demonstrates both momentum and client sentiment.

And there’s another factor. If you’re a client and your public relations, advertising or media agency is so inept at their own PR that they can’t tell their industry about their successes, are you sure you really want them to be handling your communications? Would you use a gym instructor who weighed 20 stone and smoked 40 cigarettes a day?

There tends to be a correlation between well-run agencies and those who are good at telling their story. And the opposite holds true too.

For instance, there’s one agency manager famous among the Campaign team for his laziness when it comes to PR-ing his company. He always claims to be far too busy to talk because his clients are keeping him racing around, yet if we ask for examples of the agency’s latest campaigns, he claims it’s been months since anything broke. He simply can’t be bothered. This not-very-energetic approach is replicated for his poor old clients by his agency’s lacklustre work.

So, we’ll be running the new business league table every week, initially for the UAE, but soon to cover the whole region. In such a distorted market, there is no point yet doing the media agencies, but as transparency increases, we will soon cover them too.

Congratulations to the likes of Asda'a and Fortune Promoseven for heading the first tables. And you know what you need to do if you want to overtake them.

In the meantime, you’ll have to excuse me. There’s
a sinister man in a dark cloak standing outside. I’d
better put the kettle on.||**||

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