Britain’s BBH Goes for ‘American Dream’ — Agency’s New-Biz Drive Outside U.K. Focuses on U.S. Brands

LONDON – Bartle Bogle Hegarty is predicting the first fruits of its ‘Operation American Dream,’ an attempt to sell American clients on using a one-office British shop to create pan-European advertising.
So far the well-known British creative hot shop has sent four waves of top executives to meet 30 big American advertisers for whom BBH claims to have identified untapped European potential. Its message is clear. Through international experience creating pan-European ads for such clients as Levi’s jeans, BBH claims it understands the European perceptions of American products better than the natives. And European opportunities for a short list of U.S. brands form the focus of BBH’s first real new business drive outside the U.K.
In what is a contrarian strategy, BBH seems to be an international ad agency without supporting international offices. ‘Most so-called international agencies are multinational,’ said Martin Smith, vice chairman at the agency. ‘They are simply a loose amalgam of erstwhile national agencies.’
BBH is positioning itself as a creative factory that will produce international ads from its single office in London, which cd John Hegarty said will let the shop uphold creative standards. It will cherry-pick media networks.
BBH bills $186 million and already works with around one-third of its clients internationally. More than 50% of the pitches it takes part in are for more than one country.
‘In the past agencies diversified because clients wanted it. As clients increasingly centralize, agencies are still going the other way. Agencies are trapped in a service mentality rather than a productive mentality,’ Smith said.
Susanna Richmond is news editor of Campaign.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)

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