It's almost 11 years to the day since James Murphy became Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R's first managing director.
As well as recognising Murphy's contribution in delivering accounts to an agency that was then giddy on a new-business roll, his promotion was part of a succession management plan that acknowledged the impending earn-out of the agency's founders at the time.
More crucially, perhaps, it also marked a key moment in the meteoric rise – with a brief and pricey interlude that’s best forgotten – of one of the industry’s most charismatic and talented (and ambitious) leaders, whose career started in the post room at Bates, as he’ll tell anyone who’ll listen.
With the promotion of Tammy Einav and Mat Goff to joint managing directors of Adam & Eve/DDB, it’s tempting to see history repeating itself as the shop’s founders look to take a back seat and get on with enjoying the £60 million fruit of their labours. However, the final earn-out for Murphy (and David Golding, Ben Priest and Jon Forsyth) is still two-and-a-half years away – there’s no sign of them doing a Rainey, Kelly or a Campbell by withdrawing from the agency they founded to pursue other ventures.
Murphy and his co-founders want to spend more time on client business and less on DDB group politicking
When the Omnicom deal was finally signed in May 2012 , having been the subject of initial soundings in Cannes the previous year, it became pretty apparent that it was less a merger of equal partners and more a wholesale Adam & Eve takeover. Out went the old DDB guard to be replaced by the Adam & Eve management team, along with its creative prowess and energy that led to a Campaign Agency of the Year crown in 2010. It is testament to the collective skills of Murphy, the curmudgeonly but lovable Golding, the creative talent of Priest and the sometimes unfairly overseen Forsyth that, in its first full year of trading as a new entity, Adam & Eve/DDB came so tantalisingly close to winning the award again in 2013.
With a reel of which any agency would be proud and a new-business record that its rivals fear (its most recent success being the £50 million pan-European Sony Electronics brief last week), there’s no sign of Murphy et al hanging up their boots to spend time with their fortunes yet.
So why is Murphy bringing in a new management team? In short, because he and his co-founders want to spend more time on client business, which is what they got into the industry for and are demonstrably excellent at, and less on DDB group politicking and office management. And in the spirit of Russell Davies’ latest column (p25) and with the words of my dear old mum echoing in my ears ("it’s easier to be nice than it is to be nasty"), amen to that.
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