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John Lewis Advertising

Who will be adland's winners and losers from 2015? Jeremy Lee on a year of a continued change in advertising

By Jeremy Lee, columnist

October 28, 2015 | 4 min read

The fact that speculation about what features in Adam&Eve/DDB’s John Lewis Christmas campaign has intensified provides clear evidence that another year is drawing to an end. Whether the spot features a soundtrack originally recorded by Oasis and the story of a boy going to visit the Man on the Moon, as industry rumour suggests, we’ll have to wait and see next week.

John Lewis' 2014 Christmas spot. What will 2015 hold?

But as a key date in the calendar of the public consciousness (as well as that of the industry), the annual event reaffirms even to cynics how the best advertising pervades the wider society, even if at its crudest level the Christmas retail war is just about which retailer manages to shift the most product.

While John Lewis and retailers such as Sainsbury’s (whose Christmas campaign, through Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, never breaks until after Remembrance Sunday – a small touch that I’ve always found rather tasteful) always mark the beginning of the end of the year, the rest of 2015 has not followed such a predictable path.

The surprises have come thick and fast. The sad demise of the plucky but ultimately ill-fated Johnny Fearless at the beginning of the year was a warning to those entrepreneurs who might have been considering launching their own independent agency. And, on the talent front, who would have thought back in January that Karmarama’s former ECD Dave Buonaguidi, who very publicly left the industry, would return so soon at Crispin Porter & Bogusky?

Equally, no one would have believed that Grey London would see its stellar top team decimated in the space of a few months, and that its charismatic chief executive Chris Hirst would depart to the rather more challenging climes of Havas Worldwide following the whole Russ Lidstone unpleasantness? More recently, could anyone have predicted that M&C Saatchi’s loyal and longstanding group chief executive Lisa Thomas would quit the advertising industry to join what sounds like a less exciting job at Virgin Enterprises?

And what of all the changes at Bartle Bogle Hegarty with Tesco and the whole business of decoupling, which the industry as a whole appears to be getting to grips with; and the happenings at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, where gloom appeared to be heaped upon gloom? And we haven’t even scraped the surface, with the ascendancy of Lucky Generals making it one of the more interesting startups of recent years.

I could go on and on – 2015 has been a year of continued change with maybe the only predictable fact being that the Adam&Eve/DDB new business machine continues to roll on. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, as they say.

With the awards totalizer tallying up and those few new business loose ends also hopefully coming to an end – although the Crown Commercial Services' decision to review its roster (again) in the early part of next year will have ruined some Christmases – some stocktaking is in order. With that it mind The Drum Best UK Agencies guide promises to be a useful review of the year and of those agencies that have weathered it the best. And besides that, everyone loves a list – almost as much as they do a John Lewis Christmas commercial.

Follow Jeremy Lee on Twitter @jezzalee

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