Who Needs Creative Merit?

By Agent C 

It seems mcgarrybowen in NYC is on a roll these days. After winning JP Morgan and an assignment from HP, one has to ask what initiated all this sudden success.

Could it be some hot new hires bringing cutting-edge concepts to the table? Or a new division, offering services not once offered before?

No. It appears that award-winning, unconventional work is not how mcgarrybowen wins its business.

An example: recently, the agency won a piece of business from HP. Apparently, an environmental branding effort. SVP/CMO Michael Mendenhall gave this assignment only to mcgarrybowen and had the contract to move forward on his desk from day one.

Before his gig at HP, he was EVP of Global Marketing for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts… an account mcgarrybowen won a couple years back. Milking an existing relationship, mcgarrybowen simply followed Mendenhall like a lost puppy over to HP and went scratching at his door.

Same goes for JP Morgan, which was acquired by Chase Manhattan Corporation in 2000. mcgarrybowen started with Chase, moved on to JP Morgan, and is now secretly moving in on Visa. One of the top clients at Chase also happens to sit on the board over at Visa, and his vote carries a lot of water.

It’s like a new form of nepotism – which is unfortunate. The business dinners might be nice – kicking back with old friends, but the creative is just “good enough” and doesn’t push the standards of GREAT creative. Agencies in mcgarrybowen’s position don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them… especially since those hands seem to be the ONLY hands willing to touch the agency.