Actually it’s a heavyweight against a cruiserweight when you consider the size of the respective networks, vast for BBDO much smaller for W+K.
But increasingly these two seem to be the agencies at the top of client minds when they weigh up the attractions of a new agency. Both are competing for BBDO’s Gillette account of course, with W+K the early favourite. Options from Publicis Groupe (Gillette owner P&G’s biggest agency provider) and WPP (mainly a Unilever supplier) will also be considered but BBDO and W+K looks like the big match.
Some people, my friend George Parker included, think BBDO is wasting its time repitching for Gillette (George calls it “the worst ad account in America”) but BBDO boss Andrew Robertson (left) and his cohorts are unlikely to give up Gillette lightly. BBDO has also been boosted this week by the return of the Visa account from fellow Omnicom agency TBWA, good news for Robertson and co but not for TBWA which can’t seem to do anything right at the moment.
BBDO will also be boosted by winning the network of the year award at Asia’s Spikes festival for the first time, 12 agencies (which shows the size of the network, W+K has less than 12 worldwide) winning 46 awards in total including the first creative effectiveness award for National Australia Bank and Clemenger BBDO Melbourne.
But W+K, with help from BBH and Droga5, has played the major role in rewriting the client handbook in recent years, demonstrating that you don’t have to go to a massive network even if you’re a massive multinational advertiser. Its work for P&G, chiefly Old Spice but also its recent Olympics sponsorship, has shown that even the most conservative advertisers are happy to put creative ability at the top of their list these days.
BBDo’s strength is that it has both size and creative talent, instanced by its regular Gunn Report top rankings. But even Andrew Robertson might concede that its current work doesn’t have the dazzle of W+K, not just for P&G but foundation client Nike and the more recently-acquired Heineken.
The next bout between these creative pugilists is Gillette. But it won’t be the last.