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