Last Christmas, Marketing Week put on its Mystic Meg cap and made predictions for the coming year. In the light of the success of that venture, we decided a retrospective guide to the many dramatic events and changes of 1997 was infinitely pre

This time last year, Marketing Week predicted 1997 would see BMP DDB chief executive Chris Powell knighted for services to socialism, the Spice Girls splitting up over political differences, and Pepsi turning turquoise (MW December 20 1996). As it turned out, 1997 was indeed a historic year.

Labour’s electoral success for the first time in 18 years undoubtedly had a marked effect on the marketing world – from the blocking of Bass’s merger with Carlsberg-Tetley to the threat of a ban on tobacco ads and sponsorship. But there have been other earth-shattering occurrences too.

So here, month by month, is a guide to those historical, yet sometimes trivial, events that have shaken the world of marketing over the past year.


Omnicom buys Simons Palmer Clemmow Johnson for 7m and merges it with TBWA to form, you guessed it, TBWA Simons Palmer. The merged agency’s preening Brummie creative director Trevor Beattie storms out and later joins GGT, taking his tights (Pretty Polly) and bra (Wonderbra) with him.


Chelsea Football Club learns that those foreign stars don’t come cheap. Scottish Courage pulls its Coors lager brand off the club’s shirts, after Chelsea decided to double its 3m fee. Later in the season windscreen manufacturer Autoglass comes up with the money. The team goes on to win the FA Cup, wearing Coors shirts in a last blaze of glory.


Conservative leader John Major is in two minds as his party launches the “demon eyes” advertising attack on Tony Blair through M&C Saatchi.

Design agency Imagination pulls out of designing the Millennium Dome, claiming chaos at the organising body. But it still managed to pocket a healthy 7.6m for the little work it did.


A violent month. BT’s marketing adviser “Fighting Ed” Carter strikes Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO BT account director Jeremy Miles in a dispute about AMV’s latest ad. The incorrigible, and apparently unsackable, Ed thumped BT financial controller Stephen Burr later in the year, but he remains a consultant to the telecoms giant.

Allied Dunbar to sponsor top two divisions of the Rugby Football Union for 7.5m over three years. Maybe the RFU should invite Fighting Ed to join the scrum. Cordiant demerges into Saatchi & Saatchi and Bates Worldwide, which jointly own Zenith Media.


The Interpublic Group buys sports marketing agency Advantage International and a 60 per cent stake in Alan Pascoe International.

Marketing Week obtains a leaked copy of Camelot’s annual results showing how the company’s directors are raking in pay rises of up to 90 per cent. The nation – headed by new culture secretary Chris Smith – is outraged and demands the fat cats give some of the rises to charity. The fat felines agree, though they refuse to say how much they will give, or which charity will benefit. Camelot sues Marketing Week for the return of the leaked document, and in the face of a stout defence by MW of journalistic freedom and the right to protect sources in the public interest, it wins.

After 12 years, the NHS Loto lottery collapses, leaving its investors 10m out of pocket.


Another MW exclusive reaches fruition. Mike Doyle, former Abbey National marketing services director, is convicted of fraud. He and seven co-defendants had swiped over 1m from the bank. Doyle receives an eight-year sentence.

BMW, Omega, Bollinger, Smirnoff and Gateway 2000 pay 35m to appear in James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.

The new Labour Government declares its intention to create a Food Standards Agency after damage wrought on the UK population by sections of the British food industry.

British Airways unveils some of the ugliest tailfins in aviation history in an attempt to become a “citizen of the world”. Margaret Thatcher later attempts to block the move with her hanky, but fails.

MW reveals another “iron lady”, Christine Walker, will launch a joint venture media company with M&C Saatchi. All parties deny the move but it comes true in October.


Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace is gunned down on the doorstep of his Miami mansion by a maniacal gay homophobe. At his funeral, a tearful Elton John is comforted by Diana, Princess of Wales.

Cable & Wireless Communications shocks the advertising industry by shunning Saatchi & Saatchi, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and HHCL & Partners and appointing below-the-line agency Rapier Stead & Bowden (which is more shocked than anyone) to handle its 50m launch advertising campaign.


More national outrage as MW reveals the New Millennium Experience Company has hired M&C Saatchi to advertise the Millennium Dome, even though M&C partners Bill Muirhead and Jeremy Sinclair had previously advised the body on advertising.

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales does more for certain charities (and florists) than any marketing spend could ever hope to achieve. It is less productive for Mercedes – especially the 500 class. Meanwhile, Vauxhall says goodbye to Ruby Wax.


The Independent newspaper relaunches with a radical new, and thoroughly tedious format and a promise to feature the best writing of the day on the front page, regardless of news values.

News breaks that Sir Tim Bell’s Chime Communications is negotiating a 20m takeover of HHCL & Partners. Plans for a 9bn merger between supermarket giants Asda and Safeway are thwarted by a leak in the “confidential guidance stage”.


The British public begins to feel over-Spiced as the Spice Girls’ product endorsements include Polaroid, Asda, Pepsi, Chupa Chups and Impulse.

News that Glenn Hoddle’s family life is in shreds leads breakfast cereal Shredded Wheat to drop the England football coach from its advertising.

Bates Dorland maintains its reputation for managerial mayhem with the loss of creative director Tim Ashton, who adheres to agency tradition by taking legal action after his departure. Later in the year, managing director Chris Clark follows the same path (though he still works for Bates in New York).

BA finally admits it will launch “Operation Blue Sky”, a low-cost airline to take on easyJet.

ITV announces the appointment of Procter & Gamble beauty guru John Hardie as marketing and commercial director for a complete makeover.


Newly-merged drinks giant GMG Brands reveals its new name Diageo – developed at great cost by Wolff Olins and mocked mercilessly on its unveiling.

Leather-clad Ann Iverson – who thinks she is every City analyst’s sexual fantasy – is given her marching orders by troubled clothes retailer Laura Ashley. No golden handcuffs for Ann but a 450,000 cheque will ease the bump.

British American Tobacco (BAT) buys the Tyrrell Formula One racing team. Health minister Tessa Jowell exempts F1 from the tobacco sponsorship ban. She claims such a move would lead to job losses – maybe even that of her husband David Mills, one-time director of Benetton Formula One. It is revealed that Bernie Ecclestone, F1 boss, gave 1m to the Labour Party. Labour turns to burger boss Robert Earl to pay Ecclestone back.

Lord Mancroft, the Tory peer, launches a new lottery game called Pronto! in a pub in the King’s Road, with “girl for the Thrillennium” Melinda and sidekick Emma as bait for tabloid photographers. Labour’s Home Office minister George Howarth says he wants to ban the game, as its presence in pubs could lead to a dangerous combination of betting and drinking, and no, neither Mel nor Em’s charms can change his mind.


The Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson unveils proposals for the Individual Savings Account or ISA which will aid saving by the poor – a growing band under New Labour.

Capital Radio announced it planned to buy Virgin Radio in May. Seven months later, ginger whinger Chris Evans plucks it from under Capital’s nose in an 81m deal.

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