I am very lucky that I have worked at some amazing agencies over the years.
But despite that, there’s still a few I wish I had had an opportunity to experience.
There were a bunch of reasons it didn’t always happen.
With BBH for example, it was always down to timing. On four separate bloody occasions.
With Cliff Freeman, it was down to them basically thinking I was shit.
And while there are a bunch of other agencies that intrigue and excite me – including a bunch, like CDP and Simons Palmer that have sadly disappeared from our industry landscape – there’s one that I have always held in the highest regard.
Abbott Mead Vickers.
My god they are good.
Hell, they’ve been good since they started in 1979.
The quality of the people and the work is, in all probability, unparalleled in UK advertising.
Not only that, but if you look at the people this industry holds up today as beacons of awesome, many of them got their break at AMV.
They taught you how to do things properly.
They taught you how the value of great thinking, ideas and craft.
They basically taught UK adland what is possible when approached with excellence.
Of course other agencies also had an incredible impact on the industry – both in the UK and the World – the aforementioned CDP, my beloved HHCL and the original Saatchi&Saatchi to name but a few … but AMV had the distinction of being both brilliant and utterly gentlemanly which gave them an air of ‘properness’ that other places never quite managed to pull off.
But ‘properness’ should not be mistaken for passiveness which leads to the point of this post.
Recently I was sent a letter that David Abbott – the A in AMV – sent to his agency about ‘doing the right thing’.
In some ways it was a reminder – or a reset – about process.
I don’t mean process in the way WPP would mean it, I mean it in terms of principles, standards and expectations.
Or said another way, the stubbornness needed to maintain your principles, standards and expectations.
What I love about what he wrote is that he acknowledged that everyone plays a part in the journey to great work. It’s not just about the creative department, it’s about the actions and decisions of every person and discipline connected to the process and so unless everyone shares the same principles, standards and ambitions … it will all fall apart.
Collective praise. Collective blame.
Despite the fact he wrote it 21 years ago, I think his memo is as meaningful and as important as it has ever been.
So if you work in adland or know someone who does, send them this post and point them to pages below.
Tell them to hold it close. Treasure it. Think about what’s being said and then act upon it.
It’s that good.
Which is why AMV are that good.
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