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Johnnie Walker walks out of BBH into Anomaly

BBH New York’s ‘The Next Step’ ad for Johnnie Walker that we reported on yesterday was even more valedictory than we thought, brand owner Diageo has just moved the business to Anomaly from BBH London.

BBH repitched against Anomaly, BBDO, Ogilvy & Mather and Wieden+Kennedy, a pretty impressive list for a brand that doesn’t actually spend that much – $40m in the US most recently.

BBH founder Sir Nigel Bogle says: “It’s disappointing but we’ll keep walking,” a reference to the agency’s famous long-running and highly successful campaign.

Johnnie Walker global brand director Guy Escolme says: “We were hugely impressed by the far-reaching creative vision which Anomaly proposed for our brand and with the strategic thinking that lies behind its development.”

BBH has handled Johnnie Walker since 2000 so you can’t entirely blame Diageo for wanting to take a fresh look – although its timing might be questioned. Johnnie Walker will be a big challenge for Anomaly though, which has a record of winning trophy accounts and, sometimes, losing them quite quickly.

Industry observers, many of whom were gobsmacked by the decision to review (summarised, inimitably, by my friend George Parker in Adscam), will be watching Anomaly’s efforts closely.

As for BBH it’s been something of an annus horribilis, the first full year since the agency sold the remaining 51 per cent of its shares to Publicis Groupe. New business and awards have been hard to come by and various senior execs have departed, most notably global CEO Gwyn Jones. With founders Bogle and creative supremo Sir John Hegarty also winding down their involvement the agency’s new management faces some challenges in 2015.

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