JWT/London thrives despite ad slump

If there is one agency in London that has made light work of the recession and exploded from the gate in 1993, it is the local J. Walter Thompson.
The Berkeley Square-based agency is sitting pretty at the top of Campaign magazine’s new business listing, with an enviable $39 million on the strength of eight account wins over the past two months. Furthermore, the agency says it has other new accounts in the pipeline a couple worth more than $14 million apiece. Six of its eight account wins this this year involved competitive pitches. Additionally, the WPP Group PLC-owned shop also appears on countless current short lists, including Panasonic, Kraft and Wrangler.
JWT credits an 18-month-old plan calling for investment in senior strategists and a tactical new business program, the mantra of most large agencies these days, for its success.
“We took a brave decision in the depths of recession to invest heavily in quality,” said Dominic Proctor, who succeeded Chris Jones (now based at JWT/N.Y.) as chief executive of the London office. “It became evident to us that what clients really wanted was a serious strategic thinking partnership with their agency. Creative work is no longer the be all and end all.”
JWT London also has a clear-cut new business policy of pursuing a few, carefully chosen potential clients. So its dramatic acquisition last month of the $17-million ICI Dulux paint business from BMP DDB Needham and $11.4-million Barclays bank consumer account from Leo Burnett came as a surprise to just about everyone here in advertising, except those with inside knowledge of the agency’s hit list.
Susannah Richmond is assistant editor with Campaign.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)