Is BBDO boss Andrew Robertson really in the Mad Men mould?

No would be most people’s answer (although he looks a bit fearsome in this picture). But BBDO Worldwide CEO Robertson has emailed BBDO US staff after the agency found itself in the spotlight when, in the current series of Mad Men, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s foundation Lucky Strike account is pinched by the Madison Avenue giant. Thereby imperilling the futures of Roger Sterling and Don Draper among others.

“The unintended and unsponsored product placement seems to have generated some increased awareness,” Robertson wrote. “This has not resulted in any incremental business.”

If nothing else Mad Men does indicate the surprising resilience of the agency business, at least in the US. We’ve already commented here on references in the show to McCann-Erickson (now owned by Interpublic), now we have BBDO in a fictional incident occurring in 1965. The agency (now owned by Omnicom) dates back to 1928 when Messrs Barton, Durstine and Osborn decided to join forces with William H. Johns who ran the agency set up by George Batten in 1891.

There are a number of other venerable US agencies around too of course, including WPP’s JWT and Young & Rubicam (formed in 1877 and 1923 respectively). As for the great British names they have pretty well disappeared either through acquisition and merger or simple old age. No more Collett Dickenson Pearce or Masius Wynne-Williams, Boase Massimi Pollitt or Gold Greenlees Trott. Abbott Mead Vickers, where Robertson learned his trade, is still there as the AMV in AMV BBDO London as is WCRS, now as part of Engine Group. But these agencies only began in the 1980s. And then there’s the Saatchis of course but we’ve written enough about them.

As for Robertson, you can’t imagine him cementing an account switch over a three martini dinner although those yellow braces are food for thought.

You May Also Like

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.