FEW people outside the marketing industry will have heard of TBG London, an internet advertising agency headed by 28-year-old Simon Mansell. Yet with clients such as American Express and Marks & Spencer, TBG has enjoyed rapid growth, bringing it to the attention of WPP, the marketing giant headed by Sir Martin Sorrell.
“I had protracted conversations with WPP,” said Mansell. “I was offered the chance to run a team of over 100 people – they were going to put together 60 people from [WPP’s] Ogilvy One with my 40 or so staff.” But in the end, he decided against selling out to Sorrell. “It did not seem to me that it would be as much fun,” said Mansell. “The big networks have underestimated how much we are excited about the prospects of taking on the big guys.
“I felt I would be just another 100 people in a 15,000-people empire. If you are part of a big established corporate combine, you get bogged down in some of the politics.” The cultural clash is only one of the challenges facing traditional advertising agencies as they chase marketing business online. Long-established firms such as JWT, Ogilvy & Mather and Leo Burnett still dominate the television advertising business, where the budgets are big and the campaigns high-profile. However, the industry’s growth – and its clients’ biggest concern – lies in the more complex and fragmented world of digital marketing.