How good is BMB?

How good is BMB?

BMBBeattie McGuinness Bungay’s capture of the £4m Rocco Forte hotels account (MW last week) made it two wins in two weeks for the TBWA breakaway, which celebrates its second birthday in May.

The agency has also added the £15m account for whiskey brand Bushmills to a client list that includes Carling (£7m), McCain (£15m) and npower (£10m).

BMB was founded in May 2005 by former TBWA/London chairman and creative director Trevor Beattie, chief executive Andrew McGuinness and deputy creative director Bil Bungay. A fourth partner, David Bain, arrived from Saatchi & Saatchi three months later.

So far, so good, say industry observers who contrast BMB’s solid run of new business wins with start-up The Red Brick Road’s far smaller client list of larger spending clients.

The need for a big-name client?
Yet some suggest BMB needs to secure a major service brand – such as a bigger retail (it already has Selfridges) or financial services client – to be more "well rounded".

Now is the time, suggests one advertising executive, when a start-up must "stand up". He says: "After 18 months/two years, you’re no longer a start-up and have exhausted all your old connections. This is a telling time. Do they want to be a creative hotshop or a bit more rounded? I think they would want to be more rounded, but I don’t know if they will be."

Another source says the agency lacks a "signature" campaign to give it weight, such as Wieden & Kennedy’s work for Honda. Ads for McCain and Carling are high profile but lack the "oomph factor", he believes.

McGuinness, though, insists that BMB is already a "pretty well rounded" and creative-led agency. He singles out the "glorious chips" work for McCain and the "Belong" campaign for lager brand Carling, which also encompassed a mock-up newspaper and initiatives such as a cold beer amnesty at music festivals last summer.

Other pending initiatives include on-pack copy for McCain, more product placement and an "exclusive" product variant for Selfridges. Sources suggest that last year a fifth of the agency’s total revenue came from selling clients the intellectual property rights to ideas. "It is very important to our business that we are seen as a creative agency," says McGuinness.

The agency says it does not plan to have a digital department, but instead is integrating digital specialists within client teams. Being a new company also means it can start building the teams from scratch. "It is a big part of what we’re doing," adds McGuinness. "We have had no history here so don’t have to merge existing teams."

Non-advertising backgrounds
Indeed, one in five of the agency’s 54 staff members come from non-advertising backgrounds. They include directors and architects. "We want people who don’t necessarily work in the industry," says McGuinness.

Then there are those who point to Beattie, the man behind the fcuk campaign for French Connection, saying the agency rests on his name. "Nonsense," insists McGuinness. "It’s not having the [Beattie] name, it’s having the bloke himself."

Of French Connection parting company with BMB after following them from TBWA, he adds: "It was becoming a rope around both our necks and was time to move on."

Another high profile loss – Heinz – came just six months after the agency was appointed to the food company’s roster. The two other incumbents, WCRS and Leo Burnett, also lost out in the review, although BMB points out that it continues to work on the HP Sauce brand.

McGuinness says the high points have by far outweighed the lows and adds: "We have got a better client list and a more developed business than we dreamed of two years ago." As one onlooker points out, the agency has three of the "vital" ingredients for a successful start-up: desire, talent and contacts. After a successful launch, BMB must now prove it can exploit them to their maximum.

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