Though it lacked the size of locally grown Havas and Publicis, BBDO Group Paris was widely regarded as one of the country's most admired creative agencies, with a long-established reputation for unusual and effective advertising. The flagship of the group was its main creative agency, CLM BBDO, which was also a significant force within the global BBDO network. BBDO's worldwide below-the-line network Proximity was also traditionally represented in France by Proximity BBDO Paris, working alongside the main CLM/BBDO agency. However in a startling change of strategy, local management of Proximity was transferred in summer 2020 to sister agency TBWA. A few months later, Omnicom confirmed that CLM BBDO would close - that sad event is now expected in early 2021. The main contributing factors were the loss of key client Mars and the devastating impact of the Covid pandemic. For many years the group was supported by a small collection of satellite agencies. The two most significant of these were second-string agency Robinson, which tended to specialise in local or challenger brands, and corporate communications Creapress. These were merged at the beginning of 2010 to form New BBDO, but that agency was folded back into the main agency five years later. Valerie Accary replaced Jean-Michel Carlo as group president in 2005 and led the agency until its closure. Matthieu Elkaim was executive creative director. Philippe Michel, regarded as one of the godfathers of the French ad industry, founded CLM in 1972 with partners Allen Chevalier and Jean-Loup Le Forestier, and headed it for the next 20 years. The partners sold an equity stake to BBDO a year after its founding, and quickly earned a reputation for imaginative creativity that was sometimes thoughtful (reflecting Michel's interest in psychology and philosophy) but often just playful and provocative. Among its most celebrated campaigns was the "Myriam" sequence of three posters for outdoor display company Avenir. Chevalier left during the 1980s followed by Le Forestier but Michel stayed put at CLM until his untimely death from a heart attack in 1993.
Capsule checked 11th February 2021
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Adbrands Daily Update 1st Oct 2020: It's hard to believe but the BBDO network is expected to quit France before the end of this year, with the closure of legendary local flagship CLM BBDO. Valerie Accary, president of CLM BBDO since 2005, told local trade media outlet CBNews that there were two major factors. The first blow was the loss of key client Mars earlier this year. The confectionary and pet food giant remains a valued global customer of BBDO, but has consolidated all its global advertising with a handful of hub agencies in the US, UK and Asia. As a result, some 30 regional BBDO outposts have been stripped of their Mars business. Second was the devastating impact of the Covid pandemic, not just on current clients but in terms of the general economic outlook. CLM BBDO's 57 staff were informed of the decision to close this week, and parent group Omnicom is attempting to transfer them to other group agencies, either in France or elsewhere.
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Nov 2019: "SnickersGate". BBDO's most ambitious gag to-date under the umbrella of Snickers' global "You're Not You When You're Hungry" campaign comes from France. Local outpost CLM BBDO conceived a complicated stunt whereby local Snickers bars were replaced with the same company's Bounty, but still inside the usual Snickers wrappers. They then waited for the inevitable social media backlash before unveiling a traditional commercial which explained the whole stunt as the result of a hungry production supervisor at the Snickers factory. It would be hard to get more meta than that. Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that agencies these days sometimes spend more time thinking about the final case-study and the possibility of collecting an award for being clever, than in making a good ad. The "You're Not You..." campaign has had some great moments, and can still turn out great ads like the Elton John one last year. But when it culminates in a stunt as complicated and self-referential as this, it might be time to come up with a new campaign.
Adbrands Social Media 20th Feb 2019: "I Saw An Online Tutorial...". Watching a YouTube tutorial doesn't make you an expert at DIY, and it might also give you a misplaced confidence in your own abilities. That's the warning offered by this funny new spot from BBDO Proximity for Saint Maclou, the French interior design chain that forms part of the vast Mulliez retail conglomerate (which is also home to Auchan, Decathlon and Leroy Merlin). Rather than sell you furnishings for you to install yourself, the store sends in its own craftsmen to do the job for you. The comic vignettes are well-conceived building nicely from moderately challenging to seriously dangerous.
Adbrands Social Media 27th Oct 2018: "The Beat". Some nice moves in CLM BBDO's live action spot for Ubisoft videogame Just Dance. Yet we remain unconvinced by these real life promos for games. As the games themselves become more and more life-like, it seems like a little bit of a cheat not to use actual gameplay throughout in their ads. Many developers have already gone that way, with Ubisoft one of the few hold-outs. This is a great little film, but it's all because of those first 50 seconds. Those last 10 - as is often the case with such ads - are a bit of a let-down. With apologies to Ubisoft and CLM BBDO, we'd argue you will have more fun dancing freestyle in a club with friends than following set rules in your sitting room staring at the TV.
Adbrands Social Media 25th Jun 2018: "Au Revoir Olivia". Let's kick off Monday morning with this sweet spot from CLM BBDO in Paris for Grand'Mere coffee from JDE. Even non-French speakers will realise this is a break-up call. "Hi Olivia, I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm not coming to the party tonight. I think we'll just stay friends." At times like that only some grandmotherly comfort will do. It's a lovely set-up, diminished somewhat by the pay-off of a visit to Grandma. The biggest surprise is perhaps, in this day and age, that anyone even still makes a coffee called "Grandmother"...
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