As with other shops that have successfully integrated interactive into their portfolio, BBH's reputation as a nonspecialist with the ability to create engaging online work comes from the propitious blend of agency interest in digital media combined with a client that targets a demographic demanding sophisticated online marketing.
"Good creative people are interested in new forms of communication," says BBH New York CEO Gwyn Jones. The difference, compared to a few years ago, is that the client that has helped BBH gain its reputation is packaged-goods giant Unilever, instead of a hi-tech brand or an automotive marketer.
Particularly for the young-male skewing Axe line of men's toiletries, interactive marketing is arguably the brand's most important way of reaching the target. While it's certain that Gloria Steinem would not approve of its principal online home, theaxeeffect.com, for male teenagers it's a paradise of interaction with females, even if the females in question don't actually exist. Of course, with the demographic firmly in mind, the main focus is on the game: "Mojo Master," described as a "fantasy game of seduction." For better or worse, the game plays out exactly in the manner in which it sounds.
For a somewhat older demographic (i.e., those definitively of legal drinking age), the agency expanded upon the legendary baseball poem "Casey at the Bat" for Johnnie Walker, by producing an online film that closes with Casey hitting it out of the park instead of striking out. The October 2005 effort, which plays into the brand's "Keep Walking" theme, also included print, wild postings and banners.
Of the shop's approach to interactive, Johns says, "It's just another route to a screen now," with interactive being an assumed part of the creative process. He also notes that seeing BBH's online work being passed on virally has affected the shop's entire creative output. Everything the agency produces has to be "regarded as a piece of content rather than just a piece of communication," he says.