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Caroline Pay to leave BBH as troubled agency tries new management team

Caroline Pay, the last remaining member of BBH’s trumpeted new management team, is leaving the agency.

Pay (below), who headed the Tesco account, was deputy ECD to long-serving Nick Gill. Before that she had been managing partner and head of creative development in her second stint at the agency.

The other members of the not-so-fab four – MD Mel Exon and joint strategy chiefs Jonathan Bottomley and Jason Gonsalves – left earlier this year for posts at other agencies. Senior creative Rosie Arnold left in May to join AMV BBDO.

In Pay’s place BBH has promoted creative managing partner Ian Heartfield (BBH’s creative department will soon have more exotic titles than people) and Black Sheep Studios CEO Anthony Austin to deputy ECD. Students of adland’s Almanach de Gotha may wonder how you can have two deputy executive creative directors. Surely one ECD should suffice anyway.

What are we to make of all these departures (a string of senior suits have also left BBH in the aftermath of its takeover by Publicis Groupe)?

Clearly the agency is still clearing the decks even after making about a fifth of its staff redundant a couple of years ago. It’s safe to say that the Tesco account is causing some angst – as it usually does these days – with the agency’s first TV effort last Christmas featuring a dysfunctional family not deemed to be a success. Publicis Groupe’s group-wide pay freeze can hardly have helped either and may also account for the proliferation of titles.

ECD Gill told Campaign: “We want to amplify and accelerate the creative momentum that is building at BBH right now. Ian and Anthony are two proven BBH leaders and they share a burning ambition to make BBH the creative powerhouse that we all want it to be.”

Which is a bit of a giveaway. Thought BBH was a creative powerhouse.

Everybody expects a degree of turmoil following a takeover (Publicis Groupe had a longstanding 49 per cent share in BBH). But this still looks a right old mess. There are bound to be question marks over the futures of group CEO Neil Munn and London CEO Ben Fennell. You can’t go on getting these things wrong.

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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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