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BBH’s Stainer takes the hot seat at TBWA London

richard-stainer-managing-director-bbh-new-yorkTBWA London has hired Richard Stainer (left) from BBH, where he had a brief stint as managing director of BBH New York. Stainer replaces Lindsey Evans, former president, who departed in the summer.

TBWA has had more CEOs than you can shake a stick at over the past 20 years or so. Chairman Peter Souter, an ex-AMV/BBDO ECD, evidently hopes that Stainer can bring some BBH magic with him although BBH refugees have found it difficult to replicate their success elsewhere – which probably testifies to the strong culture at BBH instigated by Nigel Bogle, John Hegarty (knights of the realm both) and, in earlier days, John Bartle.

Souter says: “Richard is a true leader and has an incredible ability to inspire confidence in those around him. He builds strong working relationships with clients and, with his clear passion for great work, will complement the creative talent on offer at TBWA\London.

“As CEO, Richard will be the proper, empowered boss. As chairman of the UK group, he’ll answer to me, but the answer I confidently expect to give him is: ‘Yeah, you are doing a great job, Rich.’”

Hmm. You sometimes wonder why the day-to-day bosses of network agencies are called CEO rather than managing director, which would actually describe their job better. Obviously everybody wants to be a chief something-or-other these days although Neil Christie, another TBWA alumnus although not the boss, gets by well enough as MD of Wieden+Kennedy.

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The trouble with TBWA in London is that it has never seemed to know quite what it stands for. Back in the day the agency employed messrs Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty and even they couldn’t make it fly. Later new owner Omnicom bought Simons Palmer and then GGT and that didn’t work either. In the States you know what it stands for: the legacy of Chiat\Day and Apple.

Its one good period was with creative director Trevor Beattie whose genius for self-publicity helped to make the agency briefly famous, with work for Wonderbra and the Labour Party. Chairman Souter has already assembled a team of veteran creatives under ECD Jeremy Carr, most recently former Red Brick Road chairman Paul Weinberger.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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