BBH’s Slater to Start London Shop

NEW YORK Ben Slater, director of business development at Bartle Bogle Hegarty here since 2006, is leaving the agency to start his own shop in London.

As planned, Slater’s shop will specialize in launching new brands or extensions of existing brands. It will be part business consultancy, part design firm and will work for clients and on its own, according to Slater.

For example, the yet-to-be-named shop is developing a movie channel for contemporary and classic French films that will launch next year in the U.K., Slater said. The channel will run on Sky Digital and IPTV.

“It’s creating new brands for new spaces,” Slater said of his venture, which he further described as an “innovation company.”

Slater has two unnamed partners and is seeking a third. He’s also talking to at least two potential clients. The shop will be self-financed.

At BBH, Jason Hill, a new business account director who joined the agency last year from Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, will succeed Slater, said North American chairman Steve Harty.

Slater recruited Hill and the two have worked closely together since his arrival. Hill has been a “critical right-hand man for Ben,” said Harty. “He’s thoroughly immersed in everything.”

On Slater’s watch, the Publicis Groupe-backed BBH won creative duties on accounts such as SABMiller’s Miller Lite, LG Electronics (a global account), GMAC Financial Services (also global), PepsiCo’s SoBe, Mentos and New York City tourism. On the flip side, the agency lost pitches for Audi, Hyatt Corp. and Diageo’s Jose Cuervo brand.

For the past year, Slater also led BBH’s brand innovation unit, known as Zag. BBH is still interviewing candidates to fill that role.

“He was the right guy at the right time,” Harty said. “He has been a huge asset to the place and we’ll miss him a lot.”

Harty credited Slater with coming up with new ideas for marketing the shop, such as producing a DVD of client executives talking about working with the agency that BBH distributed to prospective clients and consultants.

Reflecting on his two-plus years at the shop, Slater said: “BBH is a phenomenal agency and I have been very lucky to be part of it at such an incredible time.”