There’s a surprising amount of similarities between the work and challenges of an advertising agency and that of an in-house comms team…
by comms2point0 Panel Writer Rich Elwell
I do love a political biography (it must be my age).
Perhaps it's the House of Cards-like treachery that grips me or the inevitable toppling of seemingly untouchable beings by a single act of indiscretion or greed.
Who knows, but the one recurring theme in all these Westminster diaries is the ever present contingent of the ad men and women who ascend to the inner circles of some of the most revered (and notorious)
Whitehall political mandarins.
Maggie (or 'Margaret' as her political peers more respectably call her) had a very large soft spot for Tim Bell - perhaps because he was seen as a refreshing, charismatic departure from her blunt, attack dog and 'press man' Bernard Ingham.
The Powell brothers were a formidable force within the Blair administration.
Jonathan was Blair’s Chief of Staff while his brother Chris ran BMP DDB Needham - Labour's ad agency and a left leaning communications powerhouse for many a year.
Today, Peter Mandelson chairs a consultancy firm called Global Counsel - described on its homepage as the following:
‘Global Counsel is an advisory firm, working with clients to navigate the critical area between business, politics and policymaking.’
It's also a business backed by none other than Sir Martin Sorrell.
Tony Blair & Associates (Blair’s consultancy entity after leaving Downing Street) counted Jeremy Sinclair, creative supremo and original founder of Saatchi & Saatchi as one of its lead advisors.
Ironically enough, Sinclair also devised the famous 'demon eyes' poster campaign AGAINST the Labour Party ahead of the (Labour landslide) 1997 election.
Advertising has its detractors and always will. 'We're no longer at the top table' is frequently heard muttered in the corridors of agencies in a pop directed at accountants, management consultancies and the like.
But I don't think that's the case.
The above associations only serve to demonstrate that the very best advertising and PR people are feted by many a top politician for their skill sets and minds alike.
Communications businesses help government immeasurably - both local and central - assisting them in everything from winning elections to swaying referendum votes.
It's not that we've lost our place at the top table, we just have to shout up about our talents, pull up a chair and get on with it.
image via LSE Library