TBWA UK finally admits it’s got a crisis and appoints old AMV hand Peter Souter to try to fix it

TBWA London is a funny one; the old Euro-style TBWA (three of the partners were from Europe, Bill Tragos wasn’t) never cut it in London, then the Omnicon-owned agency bought Simons Palmer (result), then it bought GGT (bad result, GGT and Simons Palmer had been bitter rivals).

Then it discovered Brummie creative and relentless self-publicist Trevor Beattie from somewhere (result), then Trev left (not so good), then it tried to buy his new agency BMB (and failed, expensive mistake that), then it installed the latest in a series of new management teams who proceeded to fuck up their biggest recent account win Muller last year.

So it’s finally dawned on TBWA’s global bigwigs, headed by Tom Holland, that TBWA London needs a grown-up to run it.

The choice though could hardly be more left field. Holland has hired former AMV/BBDO creative director (and recently comedy scripwriter) Peter Souter (pictured) as chairman and CCO, in effect replacing CEO Robert Harwood-Matthews who’s off to New York.

Souter is clearly highly-regarded within Omnicon, he made a good fist of replacing the legendary David Abbott as creative director of AMV/BBDO about 20 years ago even though his appointment was greeted in the industry with a deafening chorus of ‘Who?’

And creative legend he is not. Will he have the diplomatic skills to pull TBWA together?

Well he might, but what the agency seems to need is a hard-driving CEO who can make it live up to its status as the important London outpost of one of the world’s leading agency networks. Which, in truth, it’s never really been.

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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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    I think the name is Tom Carroll not Tom Holland….

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    Whoops, sorry Tom