}

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Some Agencies Don't Do Their Own Branding Well

I was recently interviewing a person who currently works at TBWA/Chiat Day. Of course, like everyone else here in the U.S., she referred to it as Chiat. I am sure that Bill Tragos, U.S. founding partner and the T in TBWA, has fits every time he hears his agency referred to as Chiat or Chiat/Day. I am not sure technically how the merger of the two agencies worked, but I believe Chiat was merged into TBWA, but somehow, in the United States, Australia and a few other countries, Chiat's name and culture dominated. Elsewhere, particularly Europe, the dominant brand was/is TBWA.

Is this a problem? You bet. TBWA/Chiat Day may not think so but, to my knowledge. they have not done much to clarify the confusion, allowing people to call it whatever they want. This includes their own employees. I believe it has to be a big issue, especially in new business. If I were a client, I would want my agency to know who they are, otherwise, how could they tell me who to be?

Which brings me to a several other big agencies.

First, there is Ogilvy. Many of their employees still refer to it as Ogilvy & Mather or O&;M. Their paychecks come from Ogilvy & Mather. How could an agency change its public name, but not its corporate name?
Then there is J. Walter Thompson, which officially became JWT. In my opinion, that is ridiculous. I still call it Thompson, as do most of its own employees. JWT just doesn’t sound right and I can't seem to call it J-W-T  when I am talking about them.
Deutsch, a Lowe & Partners Company. Give me a break. Deutsch has no name anywhere else in the world, but is a wonderful powerhouse here in the United States. Lowe has been subsumed here in the U.S. by Deutsch, which I am sure if fine for the Deutsch people, and maybe even for the Lowe employees and U.S. clients who remain. But Deutsch is Deutsch. They have their own very successful culture and I am sure it has very little to do with Lowe & Partners.

A while back, BBD&O dropped the ampersand, which actually made sense and worked.

Of course I won’t even deal with the silliness of Wunderman becoming Impiric about a decade ago, but at least they had the good sense to change it back fairly quickly.

Over the years there have been many purchases, mergers and new principals which have caused name changes.  Some good, some awful. We have lost many good agency brands through mergers: Bates, Scali, McCabe. Sloves, Ammirati & Puris are just a few.

But my all time favorite was an agency called Altschiller:  I wish I could have been their printer. Here is the progression of its names from about 1977:

Altschiller, Reitzfeld & Morgan; Altschiller, Reitzfeld, Morgan & Jackson; Altschiller, Reitzfeld, Jackson & Solin; Altschiller, Reitzfeld, Jackson, Solin/NCK; Altschiller, Reitzfeld, Solin/NCK; Altschiller, Reitzfeld, Solin; Altschiller, Reitzfeld, Davis; Altschiller, Reitzfeld, Davis/Tracey Locke; Altschiller & Reitzfeld/Tracey Lock;  Altschiller, Reitzfeld and then, in 1994, Altschiller & Partners. Then in late '95 Hill Holliday/Altschiller. And, finally, in 1999, Hill Holliday, New York. Phew!

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