Put­ter moves on

One of SA’s most dis­tin­guished ad men opens new chap­ter

Finweek English Edition - - Advertising & Marketing -

WE MAY NOT HAVE the world’s best soc­cer but we do have the great­est fans. That’s the think­ing be­hind the Pied Piper mul­ti­chan­nel ad cam­paign cre­ated by The Jupiter Draw­ing Room (Jo­han­nes­burg) for Absa. Dressed to the hilt in home­made Bafana gear, filled with en­ergy and pas­sion and car­ry­ing a gi­ant vu­vuzela, the Piper leads sup­port­ers into Green­point Sta­dium to watch Bafana Bafana play the most im­por­tant game of its life.

Not a thou­sand miles re­moved from Draft­fcb’s re­cent “Player 23” cam­paign for Vo­da­com glo­ri­fy­ing rugby fans. AF­TER A LONG pe­riod of ad hoc ser­vice, The Jupiter Draw­ing Room (Cape Town) has been ap­pointed ad agency of choice by the Protea Ho­tel Group. DANONE CLOVER OWNS UL­TRAMEL

ROBYN PUT­TER, the man who in­vented the Ogilvy agency’s world­wide phi­los­o­phy of brand stew­ard­ship and who last year led the net­work’s rein­ven­tion that re­sulted in an­other sem­i­nal strat­egy – the Big Ideal – has stepped down from his global roles at Ogilvy and its hold­ing com­pany, WPP Group.

Watch­ing cab­bages grow and play­ing a mid­week game of golf don’t fig­ure big in Put­ter’s plans. At the age of 59 he’s looking for new chal­lenges – but that’s no clichéd an­swer to the stan­dard ques­tion. He gen­uinely has sev­eral ex­cit­ing projects un­der con­sid­er­a­tion but isn’t ready to un­veil them. He’s think­ing of set­ting up an ideas com­pany to im­ple­ment some of them.

Put­ter has spent 32 years at Ogilvy, fi­nally (in the words of global CEO Shelly Lazarus) fill­ing the roles of “Wise Old Man, Men­tor, Res­i­dent Rebel, Spokesman for Down­trod­den Cre­atives Wher­ever They May Live” and, of course, world­wide creative di­rec­tor. The past four years have also been spent as WPP’s creative head. But now, af­ter six months’ “gar­den leave”, he’s re­signed from all the Ogilvy and WPP posts.

Put­ter says: “I needed to move on. I have a num­ber of things I have al­ways wanted to do. Things creative peo­ple do, but not ad-re­lated. I haven’t been dy­ing to get back into the ad busi­ness.” Some of his ideas are web-based, an en­vi­ron­ment which ap­peals to him as a low-cap­i­tal, low-thresh­old busi­ness plat­form.

Though not over the moon about the re­cent di­rec­tion of the ad agency busi­ness, he re­mains up­beat about its fu­ture: “The big club agen­cies have be­come clones of their big clients. In­stead of lead­ing them, they’ve be­come fol­low­ers. Those clients built their mar­ket­ing ex­per­tise on the back of ra­tio­nal prod­uct im­prove­ments. As a re­sult their think­ing is al­ways on a con­ven­tional and ra­tio­nal ba­sis, while brand dis­tinc­tion has be­come emo­tion­ally based.

“But they’re now evolv­ing. A clas­sic ex­am­ple is the Dove cam­paign for real beauty, which for the first time stopped urg­ing women to pur­sue some im­pos­si­ble vi­sion of per­fec­tion and made a merit out of the way women re­ally look.”

In his three decades at Ogilvy South Africa, Put­ter made a mas­sive con­tri­bu­tion in busi­ness and creative terms. He over­saw the empowerment deal four years ago, was re­spon­si­ble for much of the best work the agency pro­duced and led it to an In­ter­na­tional Agency of the Year award. His legacy is the con­tin­ued suc­cess of the agency, which con­tin­ues to lead the in­dus­try in terms of awards won for cre­ativ­ity and ef­fec­tive­ness, and busi­ness suc­cess.

Ideas man. Robyn Put­ter

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