Partners BDDH : advertising & marketing profile

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Partners BDDH, a full-service agency based in London, was merged into the local outpost of what was then the Euro RSCG Worldwide network in August 2003. It had previously operated as a second London outpost for Arnold Worldwide Partners, the #2 network within Havas advertising.

The agency was founded in 1986 as Butterfield Day Devito Hockney, a breakaway by four executives who resigned from the UK arm of Ted Bates following its acquisition by the Saatchi brothers. The business carved out a modest niche for itself, but Michael Hockney jumped ship in 1994 to become marketing director of auction house Christie's, and later president of D&AD. He was followed by Mick Devito two years later, who took a break from the industry before joining Grey London. This prompted remaining co-founders Leslie Butterfield and Derek Day to rename the business Partners BDDH.

In 1998, the agency was acquired by upstart US marketing services group Snyder Communications in a share swap that valued the British company at £16m. It was a huge coup for Butterfield and Day: Snyder already owned direct marketing company Brann as well as highly regarded US agency Arnold Communications. BDDH was given the role of becoming the European HQ for a global rollout of the Arnold brand. Also that year, the agency gave its backing to start-up direct marketing agency Partners Andrews Aldridge (now part of Engine Group).

However the first few months as part of Snyder were uncomfortable. The agency suffered a series of resignations by key creatives and managers in 1999 and 2000, as well as the loss of several clients, including the prestigious Guardian newspaper account. For better or for worse, the Snyder plan was abandoned in 2000 after the US group was itself acquired by French group Havas advertising. Arnold was melded into Havas's Campus network, which already had a UK outpost in the much bigger WCRS. So what to do with BDDH? Speculation was rife that BDDH would end up buying itself back and go independent once more. Instead it became a second UK agency (alongside WCRS) in Arnold Worldwide Partners, the expanded revamp of the old Campus network.

Despite some benefits from being part of the Arnold network (winning a place on Procter & Gamble's roster, for example), the agency continued to experience as many downs as ups. A particular blow was the loss of prestigious key account Mercedes-Benz in 2001, although BDDH later secured Citroen as a replacement. In August 2003 it was merged into Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper to form Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper Partners, with BDDH chief executive Nigel Long taking the same role at the enlarged agency.

Following Leslie Butterfield's departure in 2001, none of the original partners had any connection with the agency. Derek Day left in 2000 to become worldwide creative director for Unilever business at JWT. He launched consultancy Passionbrand in 2005. Butterfield spent several years at Ingram before joining Interbrand in 2008, and then his own consultancy Butterfield Harris in 2015.

Last full revision 16th June 2016

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