E&P parts from US owner IPG
E&P parts from US owner IPG

Broadcast design and branding agency English & Pockett (E&P) has split from its American parent company, IPG, writes Sam Espensen.

Speaking exclusively to Broadcast, E&P executive creative director Rob Machin cited difficulties in working with a large company and an economic downturn in the industry for the partnership failure.

The deal, which will see the company wholly owned by its founders once again, was finalised last week. IPG, the marketing and advertising giant, bought 75% of the company in 2001, for an undisclosed amount ( Broadcast, 18.1.01) but the relationship between E&P and Futurebrand, its identity stablemate at IPG, proved unfeasible. Machin believed that on the surface they were a good fit.

"We had creative potential while they had a lot of clients and resources. But working with a large US company creates certain restrictions. IPG is run from a big company perspective - which means from a distance yet very hands on," he said.

When Futurebrand moved offices, E&P moved in with the commercials arm of IPG, McCann's, which was not a success either. Machin admitted that there was fault on both sides. "We wanted to be in a TV environment but we can't work for free. And nobody involved made the best use of the opportunities. We had different ways of working and there was great reluctance to share, even though it was inter-company."

E&P originally sold out to IPG in the hope that "by joining with a big company we could get an element of stability, to buffer the industry ups and downs and help us deal with the seasonal nature of our work. Our thought was that we'd be right there with the expanding convergence/divergence market." Unfortunately the plan did not come off: "Little did we know that the industry was about to take a nosedive. A lot of our compatriots have been unable to survive the storm." In the past two years several design/animation agencies have closed, including Ortman's Young, Aldis Animation, Hobbin Sides and Pittard Sullivan.

Machin added that September 11 also had a devastating effect on E&P's workload. Several large US clients pulled out, with one 'practically taking the money back out of the bank', according to Machin. Another big loss was an account with BA. So Machin and co-founder Darrell Pockett decided to refocus on their core business and start again. He stressed that it was a clean break from IPG, with an amicable parting of the ways.

The company, once a 40-strong outfit and now down to eight, has moved into a north London studio and opened two new departments. Eye Pie, a talent website showcasing creative talent, and Pockett Rocket, which focuses on the commercial brand projects.

Recent credits for E&P include Discovery Home & Leisure and Uefa Champions' League.