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BBDO is the biggest of the three main advertising networks in Omnicom's portfolio. The group has long held a commanding position as one of the world's most prestigious networks, with around 290 offices in more than 80 countries. It has ranked for several years as one of the top two advertising agencies in the US, and its international subsidiaries - for example the UK's AMV BBDO, Germany's BBDO Gruppe and Australia's Clemenger BBDO - are also among the leaders in their local markets. The agency is widely admired for the quality of its creative work, and regularly features among the winners in advertising festivals around the globe. In fact the network as a whole has been the most awarded worldwide every year in the annual Gunn Report since 2006. Between 1920 and the late 1940s, the guiding light for what was then Batten Barton Durstine & Osborn, was Bruce Barton. Little known now, he was at the time considered to be one of the greatest admen of his era. See also
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Adbrands Daily Update 17th Apr 2020: In the most shocking development to-date in agency downsizing, BBDO laid off New York chief creative officer Greg Hahn and EVP integrated production Dave Rolfe as part of a reduction of around 10% to 13% of all US staff. BBDO's worldwide CCO & North America chairman Dave Lubars told AdAge simply "I'm too heartbroken to comment." Several agencies have already laid off some staff and furloughed others, but these are the most senior job reductions so far. Sadly, it seems inevitable they will be by no means the last.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Nov 2019: "New Breed". British actor Idris Elba is the front man for Ford's bold reinvention of its classic Mustang racer, in an all-electric version, the Mach-E, and main agency BBDO NY is behind this striking launch film. It's a great-looking spot, but with some reservations. Now, we like Idris Elba a lot; this is a guy with character and charisma, which he has used to great effect in recent ads for Squarespace and Stella Artois. So we're wondering why BBDO hasn't made better use of him here. Who is he talking to? Not us, clearly, because otherwise he would be looking at us, not off into space or into his coffee. Eye contact is the secret to good salesmanship. Everyone knows that. An opportunity missed, we feel.
Adbrands Daily Update 7th Nov 2019: "Gift Box". For Fedex's Christmas ad, BBDO New York taps into one of those secret truths known by every child and seemingly forgotten by every adult: a big cardboard gift box is often more exciting than what's inside it. And considerably cheaper too! BBDO keeps delivering the goods for Fedex, a client for well over two decades. Unlike rival carriers, with BBDO's assistance, Fedex has cornered the market in humorously memorable campaigns. Prehistoric comedy spot "Stick" - from the 2006 Super Bowl - still ranks as one of the greatest of all time.
Adbrands Daily Update 18th Sep 2019: "Back-To-School Essentials". As the new school year begins, BBDO New York's latest PSA for non-profit lobbying group Sandy Hook Promise takes a blackly comic turn, satirising the chipper tone of traditional Back To School commercials to highlight the ever-increasing risks of school shooters. Hard to conceive that this year alone has already seen more than 20 such atrocities. As a result, you might feel that the comic tone of a few of these scenes edges on the inappropriate. Still it's important to keep hammering the message home, and that final sequence is crushing and heart-breaking.
Adbrands Daily Update 14th Sep 2019: "What Do You Think Will Happen?". Ignore the low-budget opening; BBDO Dublin's PSA for the Irish Republic's Road Safety Authority quickly morphs into a series of lavishly inventive comic vignettes as this young driver imagines the possible social embarrassment of asking a rear seat passenger to do up his seat belt. The agency realised that young men often feel invincible and believe a fatal accident on the road simply won't happen to them. Instead, the ad plays on the idea of social embarrassment instead, clearly a fate worse than death for many people under 30. But what's the worst that could happen? No one ever died asking the question.
BBDO is among the top two or three worldwide advertising networks in terms of creativity, geographic spread and general reputation, and has delivered consistently high performance for many years. It is generally among the top tier of agencies in each market in which it operates, and offers a broad range of marketing services in most countries, sometimes through locally acquired and separately branded specialist subsidiaries or affiliates. The agency's consistent performance is due in no small part to a long-serving senior management team, and the handover to the latest generation of leaders has been handled skillfully and smoothly.
BBDO positions itself as the leading global creative network, highlighting an obsessive focus on "The Work, The Work, The Work." In Gunn Report rankings, which tally up the prizes in all the world's leading creative awards schemes, BBDO was the world's most awarded network in 2016 for the eleventh consecutive year, and it has taken first place 14 times in the 18 years since the ranking was launched. Big Won creative rankings, which use a different marking system, placed it as the #1 network in 2016, for the 12th time in 13 years.
Traditionally, the star performer in this area tends to be AlmapBBDO of Brazil, the single most awarded agency in 2010, Agency of the Year at the Cannes Lions Festival in both 2010 and 2011, and #3 in the Gunn top five for 2013, equal 2nd in 2015 and #3 in 2016. AlmapBBDO was Big Won's #5 agency for 2016, and it almost always features among the Top Ten. In 2016, however, New Zealand's Colenso BBDO was not only the network's top performer but also the world's most awarded agency, according to The Big Won, primarily as a result of its "Brewtroleum" campaign for DB Breweries, although other campaigns were also recognised internationally. BBDO had no less than six agencies among the Big Won's Top Ten. Others were AlmapBBDO, BBDO NY, Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, AMV BBDO London and Dubai's Impact BBDO.
The network now claims a footprint of 289 offices in 81 countries. According to Advertising Age, the BBDO network generated worldwide revenues of $1.78bn in 2015. Including marketing services subsidiaries, Ad Age estimated total revenues of $2.48bn. The network's strength is underpinned by a hard core of global clients, most notably PepsiCo (for both drinks and snacks), Mars, Mercedes-Benz and Bayer healthcare. The group operates several partnership arrangements with local agencies around the world. These include Clemenger BBDO in Australia (BBDO increased its holding from 46% to just under 74% in 2011). In 2009, it acquired full control of another former joint venture, the Impact BBDO network spread across seven countries in the Middle East.
Advertising Age estimated US revenues for the BBDO advertising network as $603m (or 34% of worldwide revenues) in 2015. There are five main agencies, located in New York, Atlanta (primarily to service key client AT&T), Minneapolis (primarily for Hormel Foods), San Francisco and Chicago. The latter changed its name in 2005 from plain old BBDO Chicago to Energy BBDO in a bid to differentiate it from the New York office. Several other offices have been closed or restructured. Los Angeles shuttered in 2009, followed in 2010 by the outpost in Detroit, after the loss of the Chrysler account. That unit was originally established in 2000 under the name Pentamark following the capture of the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep accounts from FCB. Pentamark had rebranded as BBDO Detroit in 2002.
BBDO operates offices in Canada in Toronto and Montreal. (The latter was until 2015 known as Nolin BBDO). Until the 1970s, BBDO was represented in Canada by part-owned affiliate Baker BBDO. It steadily increased in size over the next few years as a result of a string of acquisitions, with James Lovick in 1971 to form Baker Lovick BBDO, and then in 1992 with the country's oldest agency McKim advertising (established in 1899). The resulting agency took the name BBDO Canada.
The network has an extensive footprint across Europe, including leading positions in several major Western markets including the UK, Germany and France. It is also a leading player in Russia, where it operates through three separate advertising brands: BBDO Russia, Instinct and Contrapunto, as well as a host of affiliated marketing services units. It was among the first Western agencies into Russia, establishing a presence in 1989 to manage local advertising for Pepsi, and now claims to be the biggest advertising and communications group in the country.
It has a presence in 18 countries in Latin America, including cornerstone AlmapBBDO in Brazil, which is considered one of the world's most creative agencies, as well as the local #3 by billings in 2016. The network operates in 14 markets in the Asia Pacific region, including major presences in Australia and New Zealand (Clemenger BBDO), Japan (I&S/BBDO) and India (through two separate networks - wholly owned BBDO India and minority-owned RK Swamy BBDO). Of the few world markets of any significance where BBDO has no direct branded presence, one is Switzerland, where it is represented by local shop Wirz; another is Ireland, where it operates through Irish International.
The network operates a number of local satellites in different markets. Proximity Worldwide was traditionally the network's global integrated marketing network. However, several outposts have gradually been absorbed into local offices of BBDO. In 2017, the remaining standalone outposts of Proximity were transferred out into a newly created Omnicom Precision Marketing division, and direct reporting links with BBDO were terminated. BBDO also works closely with Omnicom-owned Organic while Healthwork is a joint venture with Omnicom stablemate CDM. In several markets, business communications agency Doremus is affiliated to the BBDO group through a minority holding, although it is not a formal part of the network. In 2010, the agency established what was previously an inhouse brand consultancy team in New York as an autonomous unit under the name Batten & Co, a nod to George Batten, founder of the oldest agency in the group's family tree. The group's German consultancy business BBDO Consulting also adopted the Batten & Co name. BBDO is closely aligned with OMD and PHD for media planning and buying.
Allen Rosenshine retired as chairman of BBDO Worldwide at the end of 2006, handing over that role to British-born Andrew Robertson, already CEO. Trained at AMV BBDO in London during the late 1990s, Robertson was previously president and CEO of BBDO North America, before becoming worldwide president in 2002.
David Lubars is chairman & chief creative officer, North America; Mark Cadman is EVP & managing director, North America, and account lead for AT&T. Matt MacDonald is EVP & chief creative officer for AT&T. Paul Roebuck rejoined the agency in 2014 as EVP & senior business director for worldwide Johnson & Johnson business.
At the flagship New York office, Kirsten Flanik was promoted to president in May 2016, and then succeeded John Osborn as CEO in 2017. Greg Hahn is chief creative officer. Crystal Rix is chief strategy officer and global chief marketing officer. Tonise Paul is chair of Energy BBDO in Chicago, with Jeff Adkins as CEO. CCO Andres Ordonez departed in 2019 and was replaced by co-CCOs Josh Gross and Pedro Perez. BBDO Atlanta is led by managing director Peter Bunarek. Robin Fitzgerald became chief creative officer in 2016, the first female creative chief at a US BBDO agency. Jim Lesser is CEO, San Francisco with Matt Miller & Steve Rutter as CEDs.
Regional chiefs include St John Walshe (chief executive, BBDO Americas), Jim Moser (chairman, Europe), Jean-Paul Burge (CEO, Asia) and Dani Richa (CEO, Middle East & Africa).
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