BBH Starts Hunt For U.S. Executives




Planned N.Y. Office Will House a Mix of BBH and Local Talent
NEW YORK–London-based Bartle Bogle Hegarty plans to set up shop here in the fourth quarter, sources said last week.
Agency representatives have started to lay the groundwork, approaching a number of New York advertising executives about possible employment opportunities at the startup.
It has long been understood that BBH intended to have a U.S. presence, but the agency has not revealed where an office would be located and when it would be opened.
BBH had considered both New York and San Francisco as potential headquarters. The West Coast scenario became less attractive after the agency lost out in the recent pitch for San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co.’s Levi’s brand, which BBH handles overseas. A final decision to enter Manhattan was reached shortly thereafter, sources said.
Officials at BBH would not comment on the agency’s expansion plans.
BBH does not handle any U.S. accounts per se, but it does have a number of international assignments from clients based in New York and other U.S. cities. For instance, BBH handles the European edition of Time, based in New York, as well as Polaroid Corp. in Cambridge, Mass.
The 15-year-old shop has taken an extremely cautious approach to expanding beyond its London roots, which were established in 1982. It has just one other office, in Singapore, launched in 1996. Sources said BBH will follow the same formula in building the New York outpost as it did there. That strategy, BBH executives have said, is to develop a team that combines BBH’s culture with local market expertise. “There will be a mixture of BBH people born and bred with local talent,” confirmed one executive. It is likely, therefore, that the chief executive who will run the New York office will be imported from BBH and that other senior managers will be hired locally.
For instance, BBH is looking for an account planner with U.S. experience, preferably an American, sources said.
BBH’s move to New York comes shortly after Leo Burnett bought 49 percent of the shop. Those funds “may help pay for expansion, but that was not the motivation for that deal,” said one executive.
BBH has consistently said that the only area where the two agencies would join forces was in media.