Death of an agency: Shop closes (Campbell Doyle Dye)

29Apr08

Shop agency

It was with genuine regret that I read of the demise of SHOP today. The agency formerly known as Campbell Doyle Dye is about to close.

The advertising agency with a flair for some digital and below-the-line campaigns punched above its weight in terms of the talent employed and their agility in making engaging creative look easy.

Shop CDD

When it launched some seven years ago Campbell Doyle Dye were known as the upstarts who stole the Mercedes-Benz account. They not only did this, they did it with style and showed many integrated agencies how great creative ideas aren’t limited by different media; but that they may be expressed in different movements along the same theme to dramatic and commercial effect.

Yes, there were of course awards. Most recently the charming TV ad for Thornton’s chocolates provided an excellent example of what a noughties advertising boutique may offer clients from a planning, creative and production point of view. And of course, it wasn’t that the idea was, in itself, original. It was that it was simply realised with such consumate skill.

THorntons

Of course, if one cares to dig a little into the past, Campbell Doyle Dye was comfortably listed by the D&AD in 2004. You will find their work listed alongside entries from 180 Amsterdam, WCRS, BBH, Wieden’s and TBWA. Nice company, if you can keep it.

But then of course one is forced to start to look beneath the veneer and spot the few knots in the seemingly solid agency block. It’s true that a lot depended on the Mercedes account. In fact the other accounts appear to not just have offered smaller billings, but much smaller kudos by and large. Although this does under-value a few bauble brands who occasionally commission interesting creative work.

So was it too many boutique brands for a boutique and network free agency? I believe not. For the simple low billing level after Mercedes announced their departure must have, in itself, put the enterprise at risk. And then when you start to review the work Shop (as they were renamed from CDD) posted on their own website; more than a flutter of doubt appears to raise its head. For while the agency claimed to be the new new thing, all properly media neutral and integrated and not at all bothered if there is no TV, thank you very much. The gap started to materialise. I mean of course the gap between ambition and action. What was said and what was produced.

For while large agencies may find enough material across the dozens of campaigns they produce each month to demonstrate their multi-disciplined talents, more-or-less. Shop may have presented themselves as neutral and integrated, but they struggled to demonstrate the single inspiring ‘bloody marvellous’ idea working across multiple media above and below-the-line for any one single campaign.

Mercedes Quote

They may, in effect, have become reduced to more tactical or product-centred campaigns with reduced budget and media remits. Their TV was good, press and poster work great, their online and dm competent and their inspiration creatively second to none. But how often do you recall anyone praising all of these skills being called upon and delivered by Shop, in one campaign from one brief?

Perhaps several and diverse major media weren’t required for their ideas? Or just one or two media types sufficed to meet the targets? But I’m still left with the feeling that these campaigns were too thin to envelop an audience across all their key touchpoints – at least in terms of media weight (awareness, repetition and recall). Leaving a ‘press and web’ or ‘mid-weight TV and point of sale’ feel to creative ideas. Campaigns short on coverage, but big on potential. Light spend is perilously close to none at-all. And for advertising to work it needs to be seen, heard and felt to persuade its audience.

So a melancholy mix of budget and client constraints may, just perhaps, have not only limited Shop. But unfortunately may have seen an end to the business in a way that one client’s departure couldn’t quite secure.

And so, what set out to be a creative workshop of ideas implemented with skill across different disciplines may have become a dynamo of creative energy that its clients didn’t tap into fully. As the light touch weaved by the creative ideas may have been silo-driven into restrictive and few media channels with too-slight budgets.

With such talent in evidence from the agency staff, I hope some canny recruitment takes place from the groups that painfully need such versatile and flexible talent. And the sooner, the better.

I’ll leave you with an example of the lightest of touches which crafted a beautiful ad for Mercedes-Benz; an account the agency truly worked some magic for.

Mercedes C Class Shop ad

SHOP website LINK

About these ads


One Response to “Death of an agency: Shop closes (Campbell Doyle Dye)”

  1. 1 Peter Bre

    Its interesting how age evolves the manner of how you experience totally different concepts, thanks for the blog post it is really nice to go through some think intelligent now and then.


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