AMV BBDO celebrated its 40th anniversary at the end of 2017. Already established as the UK's biggest advertising agency, as well as one of its most admired creative powerhouses, original company Abbott Mead Vickers became the local outpost for BBDO in 1991, initially via a minority stake. The American network acquired the balance of the business in 1998, and AMV served for many years as something of a model for other agencies in BBDO's international network. During the 1980s and 1990s, its founders assembled a portfolio of other businesses alongside main advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers to offer an impressively broad range of marketing services. BBDO subsequently encouraged the other lead agencies in its network to broaden their portfolios in a similar fashion. In recent years, though, most of AMV BBDO's satellite units have been spun off into Omnicom's other UK-based networks and the main agency has become more streamlined to focus on its core business. It retains a small collection of satellites such as production division Flare, retail analytics unit AMV Red and content division Redwood BBDO. Another change has been the gradual departure since 2015 of the tight-knit and long-serving executive team who led AMV to the top of the industry. That seems to have done comparatively little to diminish AMV BBDO's creativity under chief creative officer Alex Grieve. Its 'Viva La Vulva' campaign for Essity, made in 2018, was one of the world's most awarded. However, business performance has been significantly weaker since 2019. New CEO Sarah Douglas took over at the end of the revious year from longtime leader and industry figurehead Cilla Snowball, and struggled to prevent a steady erosion of the agency's client list. Two key accounts departed during 2019 - BT and the National Lottery - causing AMV BBDO's fall from the top spot as the UK's biggest agency by billings after three decades. Further losses during 2020 - including another figurehead client Walkers - left AMV BBDO in 5th place among UK agencies. Nielsen (in Campaign) estimated billings of £249m that year, roughly half the figure of four years earlier. Another important client, Asda, departed in early 2021. That proved the last straw for embattled CEO Douglas, who handed in her resignation a week later. Her successor is Sam Hawkey, previously CEO of cross-town rival Saatchi & Saatchi. Top of his to-do list: stop the departure of further clients, and get back on the winning pitch list. That task isn't made any easier by the departure of CCO Alex Grieve in early 2022.
Capsule checked 22nd November 2021
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Historical profile information for AMV BBDO
Marketer Moves 10th Jan 2022: New joint CCOs at AMV BBDO. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Marketer Moves 22nd Jun 2021: New CEO at AMV BBDO. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 13th May: "Welcome Back". It's easy to forget that there was a time back in the late 90s and early 00s when the release of a new Guinness ad from AMV BBDO was an event in itself. From 'Anticipation' (1995) through 'Surfer' (1999) and others until 'NoitulovE' (2005), classics every one. All riffed on the same underlying concept, which was inspired by the need to let a freshly poured pint of Guinness settle so that all the foam rises to its top: "Good things come to those who wait". Some of the creativity evaporated from the account after 'NoitulovE', and it's hard to recall a Guinness ad since that demonstrated the same wit and imagination. 'Sapeurs' was perhaps the most memorable, but its delights were not created by an agency, merely reflected documentary-style. But, as they say, good things come to those who wait, and the easing of UK lockdown offers AMV BBDO the perfect opportunity to add a new... well, perhaps, not a bona fide classic, but certainly the strongest new Guinness ad for years. It took considerable ingenuity to winkle out all these echoes of a perfect pint from our everyday surroundings; some are so absurd they will elicit a well-deserved chuckle. Welcome back, indeed.
Marketer Moves 1st May 2021: AMV BBDO CEO steps down . See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 29th Apr 2021: "Einstein In The Bath". Albert Einstein can never have imagined how a single moment of playfulness on his part would change entirely the way he would be perceived by generations to come. Forget E=MC2, Einstein's the smart old guy sticking his tongue out. In fact, according to Chris Taggart, marketing director for Smart Energy GB, the body which promotes the installation of smart energy meters in British homes, "he's a global brand who's known by everyone across the generations. He stands for smart, intelligent technology, but he's also lovely and warm and humorous... he's someone people like and find funny." A global brand, Al! You never imagined that, did you. So now AMV BBDO, in a feat of extraordinary technical ingenuity coordinated by VFX house The Mill, have the man himself in his birthday suit, sitting in a bath telling us we should be doing more to preserve the energy in our homes. How's that for relativity!
Adbrands Daily Update 25th Mar 2021: "Period Pants". You have to admire the, um, balls demonstrated by AMV BBDO's increasingly bold series of ads for Essity's sanpro range. These towels and tampons and pants are known by many different names around the world - Bodyform, Libra, Libresse and so on - but the campaign has been the same for all. The underlying strategy has been never to flinch from the reality of something that slightly more than half the global population does, has or will experience for most of their adult life, yet which society in general still prefers not to acknowledge publicly. Thus that old cliche of the blue ink, used if absolutely necessary in advertising to symbolise menstrual blood on an absorbent towel. Certainly no flinching here, and not a drop of blue to be seen. Having gradually introduced the reality of blood in previous ads, AMV BBDO go full throttle here, with more gore than your average horror movie. Yet the results, far from being shocking or upsetting, are actually quite beautiful.
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Mar 2021: "Heartbeat". A B2B campaign for Ford's fleet monitoring technology is hardly the most exciting of briefs, but AMV BBDO has worked wonders with a challenging assigment. The results are spectacular and oddly hypnotic, offering a Ford Transit-powered delivery network as the visual metaphor for the beating heart of the national economy. There's some fantastic but invisible CGI behind the flawless synchronised balletics of these vehicular red blood cells. Star director Nicolai Fuglsig helmed the spot, which was apparently filmed in the outskirts of Madrid after weeks of practice choreography using toy vans. Mint Royale delivered the pulsating electronic soundtrack.
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Jan 2021: Two more AMV BBDO stalwarts are to depart the agency, which has seen an overhaul of virtually its whole senior management team over the past five years. Latest departures are joint chief strategy officers Bridget Angear and Craig Mawdsley, who plan to open their own consultancy. Angear is a 20-year veteran of AMV BBDO, while Mawdsley has been there since 2004. Their deputies move up to fill the vacancy, with Tom White named as sole chief strategy officer; David Edwards was appointed to a new role as chief customer officer.
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