BBDO Is Pitching Like Crazy in the Next 4 Weeks

Chases big brands that collectively spend $415M in media

In the finals of four big reviews, BBDO has a shot at adding about $25 million to its revenue line if it runs the table—or getting burned out trying.

The Omnicom Group agency is making four final presentations in five weeks. The first—for the Wells Fargo creative account, with estimated revenue of $12 million to $13 million—took place last week at the bank’s San Francisco headquarters. This week comes the Legacy anti-tobacco foundation pitch, followed next week by Papa John’s and, finally, CVS the week of March 10.

Not since mcgarrybowen’s 2011 pitch trifecta of Sears, Burger King and United Continental across two months has a shop pitched so many important accounts in such a tight timeline. Such opportunities are rare, particularly for big players like BBDO that are conflicted out of most brand categories.

Rarer still is winning a string of pitches—like mcgarrybowen did en route to 2011’s banner year of 60 percent revenue gains.

BBDO global CEO Andrew Robertson, for one, is not making any bold predictions. “Healthy paranoia is another one of our core people values, and I’ve got way too much of it to be jazzed or cocky about any” new business opportunities, he told Adweek.

The agency’s New York headquarters is leading the pursuit of Legacy, Papa John’s and CVS and supporting the San Francisco office in its bid for Wells Fargo. As such, New York staffers have worked long days, nights and weekends, particularly since the beginning of the year.

Burnout “is a concern,” acknowledged Robertson. “But generally, people like doing it. It’s energizing rather than exhausting. Of course, it helps if you win.”

But BBDO has other motivations for chasing this new business beyond professional pride. The agency’s 2013 was tarnished by the loss of its global Gillette business, which represented some $40 million in revenue. Also, all Omnicom and Publicis Groupe shops feel extra pressure to deliver amid the pending merger of their parent companies, which is slated to close by midyear.

Could even the mammoth BBDO be spreading itself too thin? Search consultant Avi Dan doesn’t think so, given its deep resources and seasoned leaders, including Robertson, North American chairman and chief creative officer David Lubars, and New York CEO John Osborn.

Rather, as Dan sees it, the question becomes: How many wins can they deliver?