It’s beautifully organic to end the year with death and birth, with the slipping away into oblivion of the grandfather of advertising and the exciting promise of a spunky new creative agency.
J Walter Thompson deserved a better end than this: mired in accusations of racism, sexism and prejudice and finally merged into a business – Wunderman – that a few years ago it would have looked down its venerable nose at.
Immediate concern must be for the company’s employees: mergers and takeovers are never easy for the people on the shop floor but to be faced with the uncertainty just before Christmas will only add to the pain for the many staffers at the agency who have worked so hard to keep the company on track despite the challenges of recent years.
It’s a sorry final chapter for a global company that at its height represented all that was possible from the gathering together of brilliant thinkers, creators and business strategists under one roof. More so than Young & Rubicam, which also bit the dust this year, JWT was for many years emblematic of the power of advertising excellence; its demise will be seen by many as a reflection of the dimming light of the advertising industry.
Bollocks to that. Who knows whether James Murphy and David Golding will replicate anything like the success they’ve had with Adam & Eve, but their new company will undoubtedly inject some fresh energy, interest and competition into a market that is ripe for a new wave of entrepreneurial creative businesses.
As the big eat one another, there’s an inviting gap opening for owner-managed businesses with top talent hands-on, delivering brilliant creatively led work, rather than running ever-more complicated corporate processes. Murphy and Golding are in, are you?
2018 has been a watershed year. So many people, and even businesses, representative of our glorious past have moved aside this year. But it’s lazy to read that narrative as the end of glory and relevance.
This is the beginning of the next chapter with new characters and plots. The story’s hotting up.