Mars moves from TBWA to BBDO – so is Omnicom still laughing?

Well Omnicom CEO John Wren will have breathed a sigh of relief when he discovered that one of his biggest accounts -$1.6bn Mars – was staying in the family when it decided to dump TBWA.

It’s moving most of its TBWA business to another Omnicom agency BBDO, so that’s all right then.

Mars, which owns the eponymous bar, Snickers, Uncle Ben’s loads of petfood brands including Whiskas and Wrigley which it bought for $23bn in 2008 – has a relationship with BBDO in some markets already (including the UK) so in a way the move is not a surprise.

But it’s still a major kick in the teeth for TBWA and won’t do relations between the two Omnicom-owned networks any good at all.

Were BBDO types whispering in the client’s ear that a move would be a good thing? Might they have criticised TBWA’s work?

Intergroup relations between agency networks are tricky things as even WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell has found with his repeated efforts to put together WPP teams together from his numerous agency networks. Even top executives are loyal to their agency not, usually, their holding company.

Omnicom usually manages these issues pretty well but they’ll be coming under strain at the moment. Some TBWA staff will move with the accounts, others may be made redundant as Mars is pretty impossible to replace (the only real alternatives being Kraft/Cadbury and Nestle).

Why has Mars moved? Maybe it thinks ten years at TBWA is enough or BBDO is just better at the moment. BBDO, under boss Andrew Robertson, continues to top most polls of the world’s best creative networks.

Maybe it’s rattled by recent doings at Kraft which

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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.