It’s been a topsy-turvy old time in Kingly Street since Publicis Groupe bought the outstanding 51 per cent of the UK agency it didn’t already own.
Founders Sirs John Hegarty and Nigel Bogle have stepped back; group CEO Gwyn Jones has gone to be replaced by Neil Munn and Alexandre Gama of Brazil’s Neogama is now filling Hegarty’s shoes as global CCO.
On the account front BBH has been supplanted by 72andSunny Ansterdam as lead agency on Axe and Johnnie Walker has gone to Anomaly. Waitrose has too but that was resigned by BBH to take on £100m plus Tesco, which has grabbed most of the headlines.
Now three creative directors (there are an awful lot of creative directors around these days), Sam Oliver, Shish Patel and Matt Doman are all on their way out. This follows a round of redundancies earlier in the year. None of which is very BBH, but maybe Gama is putting his own stamp on the creative department to make the agency more of a global contender. This is the least Publicis probably expects after shelling out £100m or so to buy the BBH shares and another considerable sum to buy Gama’s Neogama, in which BBH held a sizeable minority.
Publicis is also known for having the highest margin – about 18 per cent – among the big holding companies and the combination of hard-driving ambition and tight cost control is always a combustible one. The investment in BBH was also written down in Publicis’ latest accounts.
So it clearly hasn’t all been smooth sailing since the Publicis deal. That’s probably inevitable with such a major change despite the pious protestations by both parties at the time of the deal that nothing much would change.
And BBH is still producing good work, most recently for KFC. But the agency (and its new owner) must be hoping that high-profile Tesco (and its presumably substantial fee) put the agency on a better than even keel once more.