Why BBDO versus Wieden+Kennedy is the agency world heavyweight championship

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.

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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.

One comment

  1. Avatar

    Stephen… Just three questions…
    #1: Is Andrew Robertson color blind? What’s with the baby blue braces, baby pink tie, and the Mitt Romney Doritos facial make up? Doesn’t the guy own a mirror?
    #2: Why would you spend a fortune re-pitching an account you’ve had for eighty fucking years. Why not just tell them to look at all the work you’ve done for them over that time and ask to be judged on that… Oh, wait a minute… Dumb idea… Forget it.
    #3: I am opening nominations for the “AdScam Agency with Balls” Award. This will go to the first agency that when asked to re-pitch an account they’ve had for years… Knowing they have virtually no chance to hold on to the business… Tells the client to shove it up their arse. I expect this award will live forever alongside my picture in the attic.