Thursday, November 08, 2007


CB hears that the VB account is finally set to leave George Patterson Y&R, Melbourne - ending a legendary 40+ year relationship. Source says the business will be put out to pitch, either between the roster agencies Clemenger BBDO and Badjar Ogilvy or they may open it up. Either way, Clems would be the red hot favourite to get the business.
The loss of the business is sure to lead to a few retrenchments at Patts in the coming weeks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad news if it's indeed true, they're doing quality work (look at the latest VB ad with the MSO) so they can't even use the argument that all the good creatives have left.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10.38, everyone in the industry knows that VB has been losing massive relevance to younger drinkers, and Patts has done sweet fuck all to address this, for years.

If it's leaving the place, it's not because of politics. It's because the brand is dying, along with its 40yr old+ bogan drinkers.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's payback time.
Wouldn't matter how good the work was, Foster's was always going to ditch them.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It just all smells a little fishy doesn't it?

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not just sad, but a disgrace. We always over estimate our importance in this industry, but if every a brand owed a lot to an ad agency, VB (and all the Foster's brands) owed it to Patts. That the account should move in the circumstances that we all know too well smells and smells bad.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a mark of protest, I think everyone in this industry should black ban Foster's products. Go for a Grolsch or a Becks or, Christ, even a Tooheys, but dump the company that has so little respect for its agency (and itself) that it dumps an agency for the worst of back room dealing reasons.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11.41 sounds like one of those advertising geniuses who thinks the way to sell beer to a younger market is to throw in a few skateboarders and snappy rap riffs. The truth, however, is that VB's success was always based on it's "real beer drinker" cred. The brand's decline started when people like 11.41 got their paws on it and started trying to appeal to yoof. And fucked it up big time.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WPP is a cancer that can destroy even the most trusted agencies with solid client ties. This is just further proof. Matin Sorrell should be ashamed of himself.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

VB- you clowns, is a uni beer. You drink it coz everyone else there did. And they drank it coz it was positioned as the peoples' beer. The real fact is that it taste's shit. And as soon your taste evolves, and other beers come into the market that don't cost too much more, you drink 'em. Simple. Now Mr Client, why don't you spend a million bucks doing research to find out what the...well, to find out nothing really. Except that idiots go to focus groups.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:17! , as that 11.41 bloke I wish I was working on a beer account (hell a cheap RTD gig would be good enought), sadly I'm still just a junior (and barely that).

But I do know a hell of a lot about beer. ;)

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that's all true and fair, but did you really expect Anthony Heraghty to keep his business with Patts Y&R while at the same time they are suing his ass? So basically Tony is paying Patts to take him to court?You have to be joking! If it is someone's fault it's WPP for persisting on that stupid legal action. Let bygones be bygones and move on!!!

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked on VB when they still ran the old 'Matter of fact, I've got it now..' ads.

The CUB marketing department utterly refused to change the formula.

Why? Because it worked.

It made older drinkers feel that it was a 'people's beer' and younger drinkers liked the fact that the ads were so bad, they were actually quite different. There was a naive, retro quality to them that no Aussie could argue with.

The very THOUGHT of changing VB's work was a no-go area.

And then, of course, Big Ad turned up.

The marketing department changed. Younger 'yoofy' people moved in.

And yes, a great brand was fucked over by a department that felt it could do no wrong.

Well, VB's now on its last legs.

The old Patts may not have been particularly cool, but it knew how to build and maintain brands.

Expect more 'proactive' VB work until that classic beer label sadly fades away into advertising obscurity.

Here endeth etc.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knowing just how much VB is sold around Australia, I don't think any manner of bad advertising will kill it.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2.18 got it exactly right.

2,47 should know that with a brand as big as VB, a 2 or 3% decline in sales means many, many millions of dollars.

1.05...sure, they drink VB at uni, but that would account for tiny fraction of their total sales. And, as 2.18 said, the reason the yofie market drank it was because of its real beer cred.

But for stupidity, 2.12 takes the cake. Do you really think Heraghty is taking the business from Patts because they're suing him? Idiot. In this case, the chicken came well before the egg. He was ALWAYS going to take the business away. And we all knew where it was going before it left.

Dubious back room deals rule.

Anyway, I'm going along with 12.05 and giving all Foster's products a miss from now on.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, 2.47...the blind optimism of youth.

You know, people once said that about Patts. An agency that big...hey, they can afford to lose an account or two. Or three. Or four.

They were massive. And now they've gone. (In all but half a name.)

But if you think bad advertising can't kill a big brand, you don't have to look far to see how wrong you are. Like the Foster's Groups first mega brand - Foster's Lager.

Once it was the ultimate blue collar Aussie beer - lauded in Bazza McKenzie movies and much bigger than VB. And then, as part of John Elliot's plan to Fosterise the world, they decided to reach out to a more upmarket audience...

Drank much Foster's Lager lately, 2.47?

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said 4:04.

Do I know you?

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But who will pick up the biz?

Clems or Badjar?

My money is on Badjar. They are so HOT right now with that great Cascade ad and all.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That ad is a joke! The old VB ads were classic. The new VB stuff is good and the Pure Blond stuff is pretty cool. I say Clems very easily.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone seen the news that Lion Nathan has bought Boags. I think a few of those brands sit in Patts Melbourne.

That puts Patts on Lion's agency roster.

There's 40+ years of beer experience to tap right there.

I love this industry.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is horrible to see VB (and all the Foster's brands) have left Patts. Now there is space to replace that foul tasting headache in a bottle with a quality beer that people actually drink. VB has definately lost its relevance in today's market. All VB stand's for these days is Very Bad or Violent Bogan.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A famous creative director who shall remain nameless (he's been defending himself a bit on the blog recently) once walked into a Fosters meeting many years ago and told them that his aim was 'to make Fosters famous.'

The client's response?

"It already is. Fuck off."

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wel 5.04, we might be related.

We're both called anonymous.

(Another one of our relatives wrote lots of great poems.)

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In B&T today:

"Fosters has pulled its multi-million advertising account from GPY&R, claiming it “lost confidence” in the agency and arguing it had failed to deliver on its flagship brand."

As Maxwell Smart would say, "Ah, the old give 'em an impossible brief, reject everythng for a year, then sack 'em trick!"

The wonderful thing is they will immediately give the brand to the very CD who started the rot on that "Flagship Brand" in the first place. Aint advertising grand!

PS: To whoever does the press releases for Foster's. Um, the Flagship Brand is the brand that bears the name of the company - which is Foster's, not VB. So whoever is doing the Foster's Lager work these days must be getting dumped.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:06, in relation to the Cascade spot, you're being sarcastic, surely.

A big thank you to all contributors on this and the Catmur story. It's the liveliest the CB blog's been for yonks.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly all it takes to be an expert in the Aussie beer market is to have drunk a beer at some stage.

Even if it was some over-priced faux-imported beer with a lemon slice in it.

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Patts have 40+ years experience do they????

How many people working in the business have been there more than 5 minutes then?

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that famous creative director said "i want to make Foster's famous AGAIN" saying to CUB what they were too thick to notice back then. that the Foster's brand had lost it's audience. Folklore is a funny thing. But the famous creative director was right. Tha's probably why he is famous.And most of us are not!

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that you Sean?

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tut tut 7:22, your rock star ego is showing yet again! Don't try and rewrite history; the clientss wife was also at that dinner - and she's confirmed what 5:26 claims you said.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it's an 'either/or' with the client or the agency taking all the blame.

From what's been going on, it sounds like there are a fair few hotheads on both sides.

Sometimes you get enough slackers on the agency side and enough ego-crazed airheads on the client side to cause an irretrievable bustup, before the C-level honchos notice and can recover it.

Fosters and Patts - the bland leading the blind?

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, 7.22, the famous creative director spent just one year at Patts, and in that time produced...nothing very famous at all. Yet, within a year of him leaving, an even more famous creative director had helped Patts create some of Australa's most famous work for Yellow Pages, Shell and, yes, Foster's (then called CUB and which, by the way, had only just begun it's climb to national domination.) That work will stand up to scrutiny long after some of the recent stuff is long forgotten. (Most consumers have forgotten it already.)

All this doesn't mean that the famous creative director (the first one) did bad work - just that maybe he still didn't quite deserve to be famous at that early stage of his famous career.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11.57 says it smells a little fishy.

He/she has a great talent for understatement.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Dewey's regime did do some legendary stuff at Patts: Yellow Pages 'Goggomobil' and 'Lamp', and Shell 'Great Escape' come to mind. The young CD before Dewey did nothing of note at Patts.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8.52 makes a good point about some of the great ads done during Dewey's time at Patts...but what about some of the brands created for Foster's during that era. Carlton Midstrength went from the drawing board to being the biggest beer in WA and the second biggest in Qld. Carlton Cold likewise went from scratch to being a huge seller for a few years. So did Foster's LightIce. These were brands created from nothing. (And they weren't, to be honest, even great products.) And there were plenty of others. Compare that with the more recent era - the fiasco that was the launch of Empire. The Sterling debacle. The murder of VB. One era created great brands (and did some pretty decent ads along the way) the other killed them.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clems seem to have worked hard to reposition Pure Blonde as Scandinavian bottled mountain spring water (no doubt reinforcing what focus groups told them it actually does taste like!).

It will be interesting to see how they fix up VB.

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very amusing, 12.52.

You think it will be interesting to see how Clems will fix VB. Very interesting, considering the people who broke it in the first place are at...yes, Clems.

The strategic and creative geniuses who thought they knew better than forty years of VB history are all there waiting to finally finish off one of Australia's great brands.

But no doubt they'll all get rich doing it. And probably win an award or two.

True to form.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I reckon the orchestra spot for VB is the best thing to come out of Melbourne this year and is easily the best work for VB in a very long time. Seems weird to me that they sack the agency after they delivered something so fresh.

What part of Symphony shows an agency that's underperforming?

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pure Blonde is the worst TV spot I've seen for a serious brand for a bloody long time.

Does anyone doing beer advetising these days have any interest in actually selling beer?

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:40 Just to remind you of the large number of posts comparing the 'choir' spot for VB with the (extremely, extremely) well known 'choir' spot for Honda.

Best ad to come out of Melbourne this year?


I spoke to a mate in Fallons last night who thought the whole thing was hysterical.

He's actually amazed that someone will have the sheer balls to put it on their reel.

Then again, London is so old fashioned when it comes to highly paid creatives stealing ideas.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Symphony ad is pretty mediocre. It really shows what Patts is missing.

A symphony orchestra?

For VB?


10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard Clems Sydney have had a MAJOR number of redundancies.

Happened yesterday apparently.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not saying Symphony Orchestra is brilliant, but sorry 10.19, you seem to forget the great (stolen from Magnificent Seven) original VB track was a big Symphony Orchestra track.

Also, I'll bet there was a Symphony Orchestra in one of those iconic John Mellion spots. Somehting like...

"You can get it drivin' a ute
Or blowin' a flute
Matter of fact, I've got it now"

Christ, just thinking of those ads makes me want a beer. When was the last time a beer ad in Australia did that? Not since we all got too clever to bother about selling stuff.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't the Palace do an Orchestra ad years ago for Smiths chips, with the Orchestera or Choir playing a tune by crunching on the chips? If i recall, the big finale was the empty bag being popped.

And that was years before Honda.

So 10.04, don't worry about what your pommie mates think. They've been pinching stuff as long as the rest of us. Hell, you'd have to be 12 years old to think anything much original comes out of our industry.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That's no 'famous creative director' -

that's Sean Cummins

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only that famous creative director had spelt his name Seeeeeean.

Then he wouldn't have to go to the bother of doing any actual ads to get respected.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 9:40, if you love your mate at fallons so much, why don't you blow him? While you're there, get me a coffee. And for fuck's sake, put sugar in it this time.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys in Melbourne don't have much work to do I guess. Stop bitching, start scribbling.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No comments over the weekend?

Now we know what everyone is doing during the week instead of creating decent ideas.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The truth is Patts would have cut its ties with Fosters multiple times over the course of their 40-year relationship. How many ownership and management changes were there during that period? Heaps, I'm sure.

These agency brands are all a lot of rubbish. They are just different doors to the same global holding companies with a couple of nostalgic paragraphs on a website to explain a history that ended 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago.

When the bloke(s) who founded the place moves on (and it is invariably blokes), the place becomes nothing more than an undifferentiated con to suck in marketers looking for a change. The scary thing is it often works.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8.50 is right and wrong.

Patts and Clems were, at one time, the exceptions. Even after Bates bought Patts in the 60s, the management and control remained totally with the local management. No heroes were sent from 'head office' because Patts was the most profitable agency in the Bates network. Also, Patts trained and promoted almost exclusively from within - staff turnover was minimal and loyalty was strong. So there genuinely was a "Patts" culture and way of doing things. (Not a culture necessarily all that creative, but it sold stuff and clients loved it.) Even more interesting,until the mid 80s, Patts Melbourne and Sydney had totally autonomous management. There was barely any interaction at any level. In fact, many would argue (and I'd agree with them) that Patts started going down hill when a new generation of management in Sydney took over control of Melbourne. (That's when some appalling decisions were made - like secretly taking the Optus business in Sydney, thus forcing Melbourne to resign Yellow Pages and the 25% or so of Telstra the Melbourne had.)

Clems, always arch rivals to Patts - and always a distance behind until recenlty - had a similar situation. It was a genuine family business, and had a family atmosphere. Now that's pretty well history.

And that's where your argument is correct. In the end, Clems is now like any agency. It killed Patts; it will, within a few years - no matter how good things look for a few years - do the same to Clems.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, for 30 or so of those 40 years, there were very strong ties between Patts and Foster's. That's because during most of its history, Patts had a policy of training it's own people. So there was always strong continuity from one generation of both account service and creative to the next. So there was also a strong collective memory of the brands. That was abandoned a few years back, and the result is there for all to see: ads with no brand focus, made by people with no understanding of or commitment to the brands or the agency, declining sales - and a dead agency.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the exact moment when Patts went down was the day the sale to Y&R was announced.

They mercilessly sacked each and every person with history of the old agency, and many would argue, the people who actually liked ads.

Old scores were settled and Y&R Sydney called the shots.

And, without naming any names, a couple of the Sydney bosses made it one of the most fiercely unpleasant places to work in the country.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to find out in 5 or 10 years which of the shitfull, dour, depressing WPP companies (Y&R, JWT, Grey) are still in business in this country.

They are run by heartless accountants and it shows.

If it wasn't for conflicts of interest I bet many of them would be out of business.

Bless the Crispins, Wiedens, BBHs and Goodby's of this world - even Host/Glue here - for winning tons of business and reminding us you can still care about the work and be profitable.

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh come on 12.49...the industry was always run by "heartless accountants". It's up to creatives to do work that convinces the accountants that our ads will sell stuff and make money for the clients. Which, by the way, is what we're paid for. creating.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh 4.07, how little you know. Patts was dead long before Y&R came onto the scene. You could probably trace it to the time Sydney put their paws into the running of the Melbourne office, or perhaps when Saatchi bought the Bates network. The two events almost overlapped - and those clever Sydney management people were the ones who sold off the 25% of the company owned by the staff to Saatchi. The final nail in the coffin came when the new broom came in and swept out everything left of Patts - even, bizarrely enough, 50 years of world advertising history across every category on tape that was used for reference and education. We're going to create our own history, said the new CD - and instead he finished off the job and made Patts history

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First Fosters after 40 years and now by the looks of it Panasonic after 15!

4:26 PM  

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