The backlash against the global conglomerates

It’s an odd coincidence that James Beveridge should reveal that he is switching jobs because he wants to work for an independent consultancy, just as The Fourth Room chief executive Piers Schmidt issues a rallying call to independents to unite to combat the global conglomerates.

Could this be the start of a backlash by those groups that have held out against joining one of the marketing services supergroups, or those that, like The Fourth Room, have gone through the merger process and then changed their minds?

Beveridge’s former group, The Partners, now owned through Young & Rubicam by WPP Group, Wolff Olins, now at Omnicom, and the late lamented Deepend were among those hailed, not least by me, as design’s independent stalwarts.

Of the big groups arguably only Imagination remains independent. However, there are others that would fit Beveridge’s definition of ‘creative warriors’. Lewis Moberly, Lippa Pearce, Dew Gibbons – ironically founded by former partners at The Partners, Shaun Dew and Steve Gibbons – Pearlfisher, Williams Murray Hamm and Johnson Banks are all in that camp.

If talents such as these were to bond together – if that were culturally possible – it would be a formidable force in creative terms. But would there be sufficient might to win the big global projects we might expect the likes of Enterprise IG, FutureBrand or Landor Associates to command? I think not. Nor could mass action stop a group from being merged, despite Schmidt’s warthog analogy. No one is forced to sign on the dotted line.

What they could do is band together in the fight to raise creative and ethical standards. Now there’s a campaign worth fighting.

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