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Now Diageo exits troubled BBH

BBH appears to have shown big client Diageo the door, after losing Johnnie Walker to Anomaly.

Despite the honeyed words coming both parties there’s no doubt that the loss of Johnnie Walker, for which BBH had produced outstanding work over years, most notably the ‘Keep Walking’ campaign (below), hurt. BBH also worked on Gordon’s gin and Baileys.

Diageo says Baileys and Gordon’s will be handled in-house for the next year but that seems unlikely unless it’s giving up on two of its big brands.

BBH is now owned by Publicis Groupe and it’s been a pretty disastrous couple of years since the French marcoms giant coughed up £100m to buy the half it didn’t own. The work has been OK – better than OK sometimes – but the agency has lost flagship accounts including Unilever’s Axe/Lynx and now Diageo. It has won Tesco – without a pitch – but that’s the exception rather than the rule. BBH has also made more than 40 people redundant, presumably at the behest of the Publicis money men.

There’s a new team at the helm of BBH but few signs yet that they’re capable of fillings the sizeable boots of Sir Nigel Bogle and Sir John Hegarty. BBH needs to up its game and it’s the first time we’ve had to say that, about the UK operation anyway, in its 33 years of existence.


I see that Diageo is now talking to other agencies about advertising for Gordon’s and Baileys despite its cock-and-bull story about taking the brands in house. Using ‘assets’ developed by BBH, to boot. Who’d trust a client like that?

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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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