Left at the gate: Faulds wishes new agency well

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Imagine an agency taking out an ad in Advertising Age congratulating a rival shop for winning one of its prized accounts. Hard to believe, considering losing agencies tend to commiserate, not celebrate.

But Faulds Advertising, Edinburgh, went against the grain after it lost the coveted $16 million British Midland Airways earlier this month. The shop, which had held the account since 1995, ran a page ad in the U.K.'s Marketing, congratulating new agency Bartle Bogle Hagerty, London, which bested Faulds and two others in the pitch.

Altruism, however, was hardly the motivation. New business was.

"We wanted to go out there and say, `We think we've done a bloody good job and if anybody wants to talk to an agency that will do a fantastic job, come and talk to us,' " said Ian Wright, marketing director at Faulds.


The ad says Faulds will shed "a tear or two" when British Midland "exits via the international departure gate," a reference to the airline's decision to select an agency to give it a worldwide brand as it seeks to offer trans-Atlantic service. Copy goes on to tout several business wins by Faulds, as well as congratulating the shop on helping position British Midland as "The airline for Europe."

"We helped transform a rather dull regional airline which was decked out, appropriately enough, in gray and red (remember?) into a bright, shiny blue one with top-class European credentials," the ad reads. "And one with the credibility to attract trans-Atlantic passengers."

The ad even tries to turn a quote a Bartle Bogle executive gave the media to Faulds' advantage.

"Our task is to help transform it from a very successful European player into a global one," the BBH executive said. So the ad ends: "After all, `very successful European' might be exactly what you want."

Such a tactic, while unpopular, is not unprecedented. J. Walter Thompson Co. did so after it lost the Eastman Kodak Co. and Burger King Corp. businesses in the U.S., while Saatchi & Saatchi did it after it lost British Airways in the mid-1990s, offering to make another brand "the world's most famous."

"Usually you don't get another day in court once you lose a piece of business," said Annette Stover, director of marketing at Euro RSCG Worldwide, New York. "It's a way to buy yourself another day in court."

And make an appeal to another judge and jury.

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