TBWA is the youngest of the three global advertising networks within the Omnicom group. It is positioned as an alternative agency brand, with a reputation for quirky or "disruptive" work. "Disruption" has indeed become the agency's over-riding concept, crystalising a process of challenging or overturning existing conventions about brand marketing in its creative work. TBWA is best known for its work for keystone clients such as Absolut (until 2013), Nissan, Adidas and especially Apple, for whom it has created a series of iconic marketing campaigns stretching back almost 40 years. First established in France in 1970, and acquired by Omnicom two decades later, the agency expanded rapidly during the 1990s to become a worthy partner to BBDO and DDB. Two key developments in the growth of TBWA were its merger with Los Angeles agency Chiat Day in 1995 - its US offices retain the TBWA Chiat Day name - and with Anglo-French network GGT BDDP three years later. TBWA retains a reputation for challenging or controversial creative work, although its output has in truth been considerably less disruptive in recent years than in the agency's mid 2000s heyday. AdAge estimated global revenues of $1.5bn in 2019. The network has a good geographic profile, but its real strength is contributed by hubs in a few local markets. It has taken steps to strengthen weaker outposts with key acquistions such as Heimat in Germany and Lucky Generals in the UK, and TBWA also operates a small network of satellite agencies including Zimmerman in the US and 180 Kingsday in the Netherlands. Nissan United is a long-established joint venture with Hakuhodo to service the global Nissan account. Most of the network's subsidiary marketing services agencies were either rolled back into the main agency or consolidated within either TBWA\Digital Arts Network or promotion and experiential agency Integer. However TBWA\Worldhealth remains separate, reporting not to the main TBWA network but to Omnicom Health Group. Troy Ruhanen is global CEO of TBWA. Chris Garbutt, global chief creative officer since 2017, departed the agency at the end of 2020 and was not immediately replaced. Ben Williams eventually joined in 4Q 2021 with the new title of global chief creative experience officer.
Capsule checked 9th September 2020
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Historical profile information for TBWA
Marketer Moves 9th Dec 2021: New chief creative officer at TBWA New York. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Marketer Moves 7th October 2021: New global creative chief at TBWA. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Marketer Moves 16th Jun 2021: CEO and CSO appointed at TBWA Chiat Day LA. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 21st May 2021: "Tracked". Apple continues to hype the sophisticated privacy settings of iPhone in a fine new campaign from TBWA\Media Arts Lab, which humourously illustrates the implications of data sharing with this particular user's growing crowd of nosy hangers-on. However, one of the greater pleasures of this ad is its backing track. Forgive a little wander down memory lane but Delta 5 were an unfairly over-looked almost-all-girl band who emerged from Leeds University in the late 1970s in the wake of the Gang of Four. Commercial success eluded them but they delivered a handful of great singles before splitting. It's a great pleasure to witness their debut 'Mind Your Own Business' finally generate some decent royalties.
Marketer Moves 15th April 2021: New CEO at TBWA NY. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 15th Mar 2021: "Jump". Like the Oscars and even the Golden Globes, the Grammys TV broadcast has evolved into a mini-Super Bowl, encouraging some advertisers to roll out special, like-minded campaigns that might benefit from what is still a higher than average viewing audience. (The bigger worry is that generally these event broadcasts no longer attract the eyeballs they did before). Arguably the star of last night's awards broadcast was this joyful spot from Apple and TBWA Media Arts Lab for AirPods. This builds upon the approach of earlier campaigns 'Stroll' and 'Bounce' (also by director Sam Brown) in which a walk in the street is transformed by AirPods into a wholly elevated experience. This time, the budget looks significantly bigger - in terms of extras and set-ups, this is a very substantial production - and there are some brilliantly inventive visual tricks. None more so than the repurposing of a neon sign and a barbers' pole. Yet the anchor to the piece is the spectacular athleticism of champion Double Dutcher Kengo Sugino.
Adbrands Daily Update 15th Dec 2020: "Believe in Luck". The New Year's Eve Lottery from the Staatsloterij of the Netherlands, like its Christmas counterpart in Spain, is becoming a cultural institution. So too is its accompanying animal-themed ad campaign from TBWA\Neboko. After last year's Freddie the hedgehog and 2018's Frekkel the dog, this year's star creature is Frummel the cat. But wait, don't black cats signify bad luck? Not always... Like so many seasonal campaigns, the message this year is about helping others. At New Year's Eve, suggests Staatsloterij CMO Arno de Jong, "the best kind of happiness is someone else's".
Adbrands Daily Update 13th Nov 2020: "An Apple Original". TBWA\Media Arts Lab has added an interesting twist to the usual style of programme portfolio commercial in this new campaign for Apple TV+... Although some viewers might be reminded of Droga5's recent ads for The New York Times, which offered a similar combination of visuals and self-correcting typescript. Still, as ads of this sort go, it's certainly a cut above, and does a fine job of selling the quirks (such as they are) in Apple's original programming. Now they just need to make it easier for us folks with slightly older smart TVs to access the app direct rather than streamed from a mobile. (Definitely NOT recommended!)
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Nov 2020: TBWA's global chief creative officer Chris Garbutt has left the agency to launch a new venture. "After five incredible years with TBWA, I'm taking the next step in my career," Garbutt said. "For now, I just want to say how proud I am of this company and the people who have made this experience so worthwhile." The new business is Pltfrmr (pronounced 'Platformer'), a partnership with former McDonald's marketer Colin Mitchell that will tackle ad briefs using a global network of freelance creatives and production personnel. TBWA told Adweek that it does not plan to immediately fill the global CCO role, though it has not ruled out hiring or promoting someone into the position. John Hunt remains global creative chairman.
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