The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

When Y&R Had A Point To Prove …

Y&R is over.

Of course, the powers-that-be say they’re merging, but really they’re over.

This is sad for me.

Not just because I spent 4 years of my life with them and did some stuff I’m proud of with people I still respect hugely … from SONY to VB to Schweppes [the ad is here as it’s gone from the post] … but because there was a time where they really took a stand, both in terms of what they stood for and what they did.

Recently I found an ad they did for themselves …

Yes, you can argue it’s a bit dodgy, but apart from the novelty of seeing an agency practicing what it preaches [accepting an agencies work should be the best ad it does for itself] it’s interesting to see them celebrating how technology [read: data] and emotion [read: creativity] sit side-by-side in their company.

Sure, it doesn’t say what the computers at Y&R actually do.

They hint it finds valuable ‘audience stuff’, but for all I know, they might have actually been used to just type and/or design their ads on … but it’s the first thing I can remember where an agency proactively talked about the coming together/tension between data and creativity.

Of course it’s nowhere near as good or provocative as their 1965, Backbone ad [again, for themselves], but it is nice to see an agency have a point of view, which – ironically – is the very thing they stopped doing which contributed to them ending up as the back end of VML.

17 Comments so far
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Innovate or die.

Comment by Pete

To be more precise, innovate or be merged.

Comment by Pete

Yep. That just about nails it. Merged into oblivion.

Comment by Rob

Another agency that proves when you lose your independence, you lose your chances of survival. Shame. They were one of the more interesting ones a long time ago.

Comment by George

The merger isn’t a stupid idea. It’s letting themselves get in to this position that is stupid.

Comment by Bazza

Yep. You’re right Baz. And yet the irony is WPP were one of the relatively early investors in tech for their agencies. Sadly it seemed to be more about looking the part than truly innovating. But then that is also because clients were similar. Look like they want the future but only on their terms and without too much disruption.

Comment by Rob

sorrell pulled a ferguson. canny bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

Sorrells greatest move isn’t making the current WPP leadership look inept, even though he was the one that made the group only focus on the present. It’s that he has managed to do this without the sex dismissal affecting his reputation.

Comment by DH

Really like that print ad.

I started at Y&R and I wonder why they never showed us “new blood” work like that. To be fair, maybe only one of the agencies I worked at did so. Is there an assumption that we’ve seen it all at school already? Whatever ‘school’ means?

Comment by Stefano

i think y&r made 2 big fucking mistakes.

not calling themselves y+r.
hiring you.

business fucking case study right there.

Comment by andy@cynic

The secret to creativity is using + instead of &.

You heard it here first.

Comment by DH

I hardest thing in any company culture is the hand off from one generation to another.
(Insert your favorite 1980s creative shop here.)

Comment by Paul Macfarlane

Yes. Only one who seems to have done it well is WK.

Comment by DH

And from what I hear it’s not as perfect as they say present. Still better than everyone else.

Comment by DH

Damn —can’t edit posts here.

I = The

Comment by Paul Macfarlane

Even though I’ve never worked for Y&R, my experience with VML was so poor that I felt embarrassed for Y&R when the merger was announced. (We used to call them ‘Vague marketing Language’)

I hope that my experience was not representative of the whole organisation.

As with JWT, I feel like valuable and powerful brands are being thrown away in search of quick fixes. I guess that’s the power of a strong voice, you can stand out sufficiently to make a merger seem risky.

Comment by Rob (Other one)

In the dotcom bubble era when nobody had a clue about how to deal with the new medium, the IT head at our company hired Y&R for our e-commerce unit. I think their unit was called Y&R 2.1 or something ridiculously puerile. A couple of their senior muppets turned up with job titles like Navigator and Pilot. When I read their business cards, I instinctively rolled my eyes so hard that I almost fell over. And the chairs in our board room were some robust chairs. Needless to say, things didn’t improve thereafter, and we parted ways.

Comment by Chikashi

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