David’s Burger King win in France shows fluid reality of clients and creative agencies

WPP’s David, named after David Ogilvy, is one of the brightest stars in WPP’s somewhat troubled creative firmament, but the Miami-based agency has been hit by a big breakaway including some of the founders, to form indie agency Gut.

But David has been given a big vote of confidence by flagship client Burger King with an assignment for its Madrid office to handle a slice of Burger King in France (still with us?) aimed at families. Buzzman, which has produced some lively work for Burger King in France stays on the roster. Last year Buzzman struck a deal with Havas which may result in Havas buying it all in a few years’ time. David says it may now open in Paris.

Tough on Buzzman and rosters are the name of the game it seems and Burger King, a much-awarded advertiser, shares the work around.

This move and others like it does point to some of the problems the holding companies face as they try to re-establish their creative offerings.

For years in what we might call the Sir Martin Sorrell era the big networks hoovered up most big creative accounts and snapped up any agency that looked as though it might make life difficult for them – Omnicom’s DDB buying the UK’s adam&eve for an eventual £100m or so being the most noteworthy example.

But the holding companies still struggle with creative. DDB started a bespoke agency We Are Unlimited to handle McDonald’s in the US but it, alas, proved more limited than it was supposed to be and the business moved to indie network Wieden+Kennedy.

WPP recently won VW creative in North America (after losing Ford to BBDO) but the business is led by Johannes Leonardo, only part-owned by Mark Read’s operation.

Returning to France, Havas won’t be best pleased to see Buzzman lose some of Burger King.

Back in the SMS era breakaways from the holding companies were rare, anybody who tried it got their pants sued off. But clients are wearing the money trousers now and if they want to back, say, Gut then it would be a brave holding company who headed for the courts.

Creative agencies are, belatedly, back in fashion at the moment. The holding companies face a far more competitive arena.

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About Stephen Foster

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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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