Solus Club debate lays bare client-agency rift

UK advertising agencies have been heavily criticised by some of the UK’s biggest advertisers for being out of touch with the concerns of advertisers.

During a debate at The Solus Club, which was chaired by Toyota commercial director Mike Moran, Carol Fisher, the former chief executive of COI Communications claimed agencies lacked “flexibility”, had no concept of “speed” and were not fully accountable. She also said that although media was where the “lion’s share” of advertising money was spent, “media agencies and media owners are not involved early enough in the process”.

The president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Bruce Haines, who is also group chief executive of Leo Burnett, defended advertising agencies – which he claimed “lacked leadership” from their clients – saying: “Client input is a little bit lacking.”

Although the debate was supposed to be light-hearted, several key advertisers, agency chiefs and media-owners used it as an opportunity to air grievances.

Fisher lost the debate on votes, but her issues, and the issues raised by Haines and other key industry figures, deepens the rift between clients and agencies (MW last week).

The Solus Club, which was founded in 1929, is a male-only dining club made up of about 100 senior industry figures.

As well as the club’s president, Mike Moran, members include Grey Worldwide London chief executive Garry Lace and Delaney Lund Knox Warren chief executive Mark Lund. Moran, who officially takes up his presidency at the start of next year, says he wants to encourage “young, bright” marketing directors to join the club.

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