Five Questions With Adam & Eve/DDB's James Murphy

Merged Agency Strengthens DDB in U.K. But Poses Multiple Account Conflicts

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Omnicom's DDB Worldwide is buying London independent agency Adam & Eve for an estimated $80 million. Ad Age 's Europe editor, Emma Hall, talked with Adam & Eve founder James Murphy, who starting today is CEO of the newly merged agency, Adam & Eve/DDB.

Ad Age : How have you spent your first day as a multimillionaire?

James Murphy
James Murphy

Mr. Murphy: It's been business as usual. We had a big John Lewis strategy-planning meeting. We even did a creds presentation today. I've also been phoning clients, meeting DDB people to talk about integrating the business, and taking calls from Morgan Stanley private banking -- there are a lot of bottom feeders.

Ad Age : You left RKCR/Y&R to start up your own business. How does it feel to be back in a big network?

Mr. Murphy: I don't have any childish knee-jerk views about networks vs. independents. At Y&R we thrived and enjoyed ourselves. I've heard that Omnicom is a holding company that is brilliant at nurturing creative businesses, and all my experience so far points in that direction.

Ad Age : What lessons did you learn as part of WPP that you can apply to Omnicom?

Mr. Murphy: To plagiarize from a DDB VW ad: "Think small." You can run a [network] creative business in a way that still feels small, intimate and responsive.

Ad Age : What will you do about the client conflicts? The Financial Times and The Telegraph, department stores John Lewis and Harvey Nichols, Benecol and Unilever's Flora margarine?

Mr. Murphy: We've had discussions with all our clients, including those where there's overlap. So far discussions in a couple of areas have been surprisingly positive. Clients are taking a more open view about these things.

Ad Age : How long until you're all merged and working out of one office?

Mr. Murphy: It'll be four to six weeks. It's easy for us to fit in -- DDB has big offices in Paddington [West London] and there's plenty of room.

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