Review of the year: Domesday is over

The first year of a new millennium saw its fair share of fiascos, failures and some fortunes changing hands. Marketing Week reporters look back on a year fraught with vicissitudes and uncertainty.

Fiascos? The year 2000 had a few: the Dome, the US election, rail travel, the Lottery. Chaos reigns across TV channels as regulators, TV chiefs and politicians reveal their total inability to make even the simplest decision, such as what time to screen the news. The reverse in dot-com fortunes affected the marketing, advertising and media worlds, as ad Media poo-pooed pie-in-the-sky budgets and ad bookings from dot-coms faltered. But frantic acquisition, consolidation, and big budget advertising reviews made for an exciting 12 months. And a year when the ex-boss of Saatchi & Saatchi gets to choose the new England football manager has to be an extraordinary one.

January

A protracted game of marketing musical chairs begins in the newspaper industry: News Corp hires KP Snacks’ marketing director, Nick Canning, to take on The Sun and News of the World; Telegraph Newspapers’ Mark Dixon replaces Hugo Drayton as marketing director, as the latter becomes managing director of Hollinger New Media.

Centrica adds the AA to its collection of brands, and reinvents itself to offer a raft of services from home and car to personal finance.

New millennium, same old Kelvin MacKenzie. Reinventing Talk Radio as TalkSport, he declares war on BBC Radio 5 Live. By the end of the year, he is declaring war on BBC Radio 2 with plans to launch an off-shore easy-listening station.

Edinburgh’s The Leith Agency puts the wind up Soho’s creative hotshops by finally admitting that it is to open a London agency. It wins Bass’ Grolsch, Honda Motor Europe South, Honda Civic, Carling, and by the end of the year is on BSkyB’s shortlist.

February

MW throws a lifeline to the struggling Millennium Dome, outlining a complete relaunch package for the failing attraction.

New boss Pierre-Yves Gerbeau refuses to listen, claiming he doesn’t need our advice. The Dome is dogged by failure for the rest of the year.

BT’s annus horribilis begins. Pre-tax profits for October to December are down 24 per cent on last year to &£651m so the former monopoly doubles its &£50m ad spend and axes 100 marketers.

Vodafone sinks &£30m into a four-year deal to sponsor Manchester United, causing a conflict of interest for marketing director Paul Donovan, a lifelong Arsenal supporter. A row brews up over who owns Man United’s Internet rights.

March

Orange reviews its &£32m creative advertising account, dealing WCRS its third blow in a month, after losing Sega and Rover’s international account. By August, Lowe Lintas’ future looks bright – and Orange.

United Biscuits’ resistance finally crumbles to European rival Finalrealm, led by Danone, in a deal worth $1.25bn (&£895m).

A new round of consolidation in the food sector begins.

Interbrew closes its UK offices as part of a cost-cutting exercise, then promptly finds &£400m to buy Whitbread’s brewing interests.

Football Association chief executive, former Saatchi boss, Adam Crozier, plans to create the FA’s first marketing department to build brand strategies for the FA Cup and England international team.

After a failed Euro 2000 campaign, a flailing World Cup qualification bid, Kevin Keegan’s resignation and the appointment of a Swede as England manager – it’s a baptism by fire for Crozier.

April

Marks & Spencer battles on in its bid to turn sales around, and appoints Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R to its &£26m account.

Later in the year, M&S is slammed by religious groups over a TV ad featuring a size 16 woman standing naked on top of a hill and the ad is withdrawn.

Entrepreneur Philip Green buys Bhs for &£200m and poaches former Debenhams’ boss Terry Green and Asda chief executive Allan Leighton to help run the chain. Leighton also lends a hand at Lastminute.com.

BBC director-general Greg Dyke wields the axe, announces deep job cuts and appoints Matthew Bannister – who has no marketing experience – as marketing director.

May

Another month, another BT restructure. By June, marketing director Angus Porter becomes managing director of BT’s consumer division and Tim Evans takes the top marketing slot.

Mobile phone operators BTCellnet, Vodafone, Orange, One 2 One and Canadian company TIW pay &£22.5bn for licences to build the UK’s third generation mobile phone networks. Then the bickering begins over who must pay the Treasury what and when – and how to recoup the money.

London goes Tate Modern-mad and to help bring the masses to the art, Coffee Republic launches special “La Tated” coffee.

Procter & Gamble’s toilet tissue, Charmin, literally refused to go down the drains and the consumer goods giant bows to industry pressure and halves Charmin’s strength amidst fears of serious sewerage blockage.

Marc Sands, former director of brand marketing at ONdigital took over as marketing director at Guardian Newspapers from Stephen Palmer who went to EMAP Performance to do the same thing.

It’s also boo-hoo for Boo.com as it goes bust, after reportedly burning $1m of funding a week. The dot-com backlash begins.

June

On the acquisition trail, Interbrew bids &£2.2bn for Bass’ brewing interests, and Saatchi & Saatchi is bought by French advertising agency Publicis in a &£1bn deal.

Vodafone sells Orange to France Telecom for &£25bn and by December chief executive Hans Snook admits he is to quit.

Unilever snaps up Hellmann’s Mayonnaise manufacturer Bestfoods for &£16.2bn, less than four months after co-chairman Niall Fitzgerald announced a cull of 1,200 brands. It also gobbles up Ben & Jerry’s for &£265m and SlimFast for &£1.45bn.

Golden Wonder is bought by venture capitalist Bridgepoint Capital for &£110m; and in the US, Philip Morris’ Kraft Foods buys biscuit-maker Nabisco for $14.9bn (&£10.6bn).

Merger mania takes over: Seagram announces it is selling off its wine and spirits division following its merger with French media company Vivendi.

The merged Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest restructures – the 170 NatWest card services marketing department is slashed to a mere 80.

And, it’s goodbye to B2 – Barclays’ telephone and Internet operation which had &£20m of advertising lavished on it.

July

After many months of speculation and endless articles in the press, Lord Hollick is frozen out of ITV by a Competition Commission report which rejects his United News & Media tie-up with Carlton, paving the way for Granada to buy most of UN&M’s ITV interests. ITV is now controlled by people who know next to nothing about television.

Anyone who has experienced the delights of a Granada motorway breakfast will fear the Granada-isation of ITV – lots of tasteless, poor value fayre, rudely slopped up by mealy-mouthed staff.

Sir Richard Branson stretches the Virgin brand ever further, launching Virgin Energy with London Electricity.

Motorola reviews its $400m (&£272m) global advertising business – held by McCann-Erickson – consolidating the account into Ogilvy & Mather in September. Ericsson and Siemens also stage a review.

Mills & Boon relaunches to attract a new generation of readers and The National Magazine Company beats IPC to acquire the UK arm of German publisher Gruner & Jahr.

August

The National Lottery Commission (NLC) invites every journalist in the country to a press conference to tell them its choice between Camelot and Sir Richard Pullover to run the next Lottery licence.

Unfortunately, it fails to select either. But the NLC rules out Camelot from further bidding – a move later judged illegal.

The whole process collapses in force, and NLC chairman, the wonderfully named Dame Helena Shovelton, resigns.

AltaVista abandons its unlimited free Internet access plan, amid claims BT is dragging its feet over opening up access to local phone exchanges – Oftel’s complaint of the year.

UK managing director Andy Mitchell resigns within days.

Barclays pulls the plug on rural branches at the same time as launching its “Big” advertising campaign.

It’s also a fond farewell to Eve Pollard’s Parkhill Publications and in consequence its flagship magazine Aura.

September

Vodafone looks for an advertising agency for a global branding push – appointing McCann-Erickson in October. Manchester United appoints its first ad agency – Cheetham Bell.

Scottish & Newcastle announces plans to sell 250 pubs. While, in October, Bass puts its 900 unbranded pubs up for sale.

The dot-com crash continues, as online health and beauty site Clickmango closes.

October

The ITC publishes its new sponsorship code, allowing advertisers to feature their products in sponsorship credits.

The Government Supermarket Competition Report doesn’t believe the hype and says supermarkets are not part of “rip-off Britain”.

Ford signs the deal the radio industry has been waiting for – agreeing with MXR digital radio consortium to install digital radios in its new cars from 2004.

Dot-com failure of the month: Boxman.

November

Revlon axes its “face”, model Cindy Crawford, in a bid to changes its outdated Eighties’ image, just as the Eighties’ look makes a huge fashion comeback.

Deutsche Telekom makes plans to rebrand the One 2 One, and Vodafone appoints Coca-Cola Germany managing director David Haines as its first global brand director.

Whitbread announces the sale of 140 of its restaurant sites and rebrands Beefeater, less than a month after the group put its 3,000-strong pub estate up for sale.

The long-awaited Sony PlayStation2 launches, but only 200,000 are available to customers who have pre-ordered.

In the frantic world of finance, Barclays hunts for a marketing supremo for its retail business units; Prudential Financial Services poaches Halifax online chief Jaz Saggu and the Inland Revenue opts for a makeover by appointing its first ever marketing director, NatWest’s Ian Schoolar.

OK!’s parent company’s (Northern & Shell) acquisition of Express Newspapers prompts Hello! to team up with The Daily Mail. There is concern over the plans of Asian Babes publisher – N&S chairman Richard Desmond – to turn around the Express after 20 marketers are axed.

More dot-coms close: Unilever-backed teen girl site Wowgo and United News and Media’s uTravel. Share prices at Amazon, QXL and Lastminute dive.

December

Advertisers fear facing a hike in TV advertising rates, following the publication of the Government’s communications White Paper.

The BBC completes its gruelling seven month agency review and appoints Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO, Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters and Fallon to its roster. Not a Perfect Day for Tim Leagas of Leagas Delaney, who lets everyone know his feelings on the subject.

Breathe.com becomes the latest dot-com casualty.

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