When news broke that Simon Hall and Warren Moore had forged a deal with BBH to scoop the prestigious loyalty account for British Airways, the only place it did not raise eyebrows was within the DM agency world itself.
After all, “The Glimmer Twins” of the industry have been here before, having won over Johnny Hornby – no mean feat in itself – by persuading him they were the perfect partners to set up a direct marketing arm of Clemmow Hornby Inge.
From a standing start, Hall Moore CHI was soon nearly as big as its parent agency, picking up business from Carphone Warehouse, AOL and Direct Line, and ultimately the duo secured a mega-bucks deal when Martin Sorrell came knocking in 2009.
Of course, for Hall this was the second time he had built an agency from scratch and then sold it – to borrow a phrase – to the right people, at the right time, for the right offer.
Hall’s first venture, Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray, was set up in 1991 and went on to become one of the most successful DM agencies of the Nineties, being bought by Omnicom in the latter part of the decade and rebranded Proximity London.
It was here that he struck up a friendship with Moore, who joined Proximity when it took over digital agency Traffic. Moore was soon to become executive creative director at Proximity but both quit in 2004 to join Hornby and co.
In Moore, Hall seems to have found the perfect business partner. Once dubbed “the ultimate suit” himself, Hall’s experience seems to have driven Moore on. Although he is the creative partner, he too has also built a reputation for being great with clients.
However, unlike some in the industry, they have shied away from blowing their own trumpets in the media, shunning the ad trade rag Campaign to simply get on with the work.
And while Hall’s former business partners at BHWG – Chris Barraclough, Ellie Woolston and Duncan Gray – have not managed to repeat their early success as yet, Hall is now looking at doing it all again, if it goes to plan.
Not that they have had it all their own way; their online consumer venture, savvyfriends.com, designed to provide users with expert advice – from where to eat and what to drink to how to get a great tailor and a top hotel booking – was mothballed after only a few months.
But having set up their new consultancy, Seven Seconds, just a few months ago, Hall and Moore had already captured a number of notable briefs. And, with BBH desperately seeking a partner to help it add the CRM account to the ad business it had held since 2003, the duo were just a phone call away.
BBH chief executive Ben Fennell told Campaign: “When I heard the full scope of BA’s brief and that it was intending to have just one rather than two creative agencies, I realised that we were not going to be able to do this on our own.”
Hall and Moore had already worked closely with top BBH creative chief Ewan Paterson, who was CHI’s executive creative director, while Seven Seconds and BBH also work on Waitrose together.
Both parties insist that the joint venture between Hall, Moore and BBH’s owner, Publicis Groupe, is more than just a marriage of convenience and they will work on other business, too. It has already been mooted that this may eventually lead to an acquisition of the unit.
Fennel added: “This will be a partnership of equals. There will be one P&L and we’ll share revenue and costs. This is going to be more than just a joint venture. It will be a transitory process.”
Whether it will be the new agency model some have suggested, remains unclear. One thing is certain though, DM’s Glimmer Twins have well and truly landed on their feet once more…
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