TOP EUROPEAN AGENCIES: Hot shopping - Which independent ad agencies top the global networks’ wish-lists? Karen Yates gives the low down on her top four
By KAREN YATES, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 09 July 1999 12:00AM
S,C,P,F would appear to be one of Spain’s ripest plums and ready for
picking. For the past three years, it has been scooping awards at all
the best competitions. In the past 12 months, BMW, Pepsi and Adidas have
joined the client list, and the fledgling agency has pushed out of its
Barcelona base to open an office in Madrid.
It is surprising that S,C,P,F is still independent: it’s not as though
the major networks haven’t been snooping around. The likes of Grey, WPP
and BBDO are all said to have been in talks at one stage or another. And
there is not a particularly fierce resistance to international links, as
all three of S,C,P,F’s remaining founders are well acquainted with the
way multinationals work.
Toni Segarra, the gifted and anarchic creative director, Ignasi Puig,
the managing director, and Luis Cuesta, the president, broke away
together from Delvico Bates. So they are clear about what internationals
offer in terms of money and international clients. They are, however,
equally conversant with what they can take away, such as independence
and freedom from bureaucracy.
S,C,P,F is an informal maelstrom, where the idea is king. To outsiders,
its offices looks like a chaotic, decaying, turn-of-the-century
apartment crammed with 50 creatives from as far afield as Brazil and
Norway, who somehow turn concepts into stunning advertising. This is how
Segarra likes it, and he freely admits to hating the hierarchy of life
at a multinational.
Above all he’s a visionary. He wants to embrace all disciplines, not
just advertising. But this requires money, so the signing of an
international deal may be simply a matter of time.
FORSMAN & BODENFORS, SWEDEN
To observers of the Cannes Festival, the name Forsman & Bodenfors means
the agency behind last year’s best Volvo commercial - the one where a
child, asked to depict a car, draws speed lines to represent the world
going by out of a Volvo window. In F&B’s home market of Sweden, the name
means the Lotto campaign that struck a chord when it depicted winners
taking no nonsense from anyone, even their bosses. To the multinational
networks, it means an irksome co-operative that simply won’t sell.
Now 13 years old, F&B has been turning suitors away since the 80s, and
it claims to be very happy as a spinster. Names like Volvo, Ikea and SCA
sit comfortably on its client list (F&B once actually resigned Volvo),
and the creative awards still keep rolling in, with more gold lions this
F&B is based in Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg, and it maintains only
a rarely manned satellite office in Stockholm. Its four founders are
still with the agency, as are many of its original clients, and
ownership is shared among 13 equal partners.
F&B’s philosophy remains constant: to do advertising based on strong
ideas, creating commercials that rely on a good story, well told. It
seems to have worked, as this year Volvo made F&B one of just two
agencies responsible for its worldwide marketing. As a result, F&B set
up an international division in April.
CALLEGARI BERVILLE, FRANCE
Callegari Berville is France’s largest independent agency. Housed,
literally, in a grand residence in Paris’ 17th arrondissement, it prides
itself on having no particular trademark style, or as its new-business
mantra has it: ’We have as many styles as we have brands.’
Still fiercely independent after 12 years, the agency’s two founders,
Pierre Callegari and Pierre Berville, maintain that the agency’s success
demonstrates that its philosophy of ’creativity but only with the right
strategy’ is worth preserving. Both Pierres had been around the block a
couple of times before deciding to start up together, and a founding
principle of the agency is to offer only experienced staff to
Callegari, now the managing director, earned his spurs as a brand
manager at Philips, before joining Ted Bates and then DDB. The creative
director, Berville, cut his teeth at Ted Bates, followed by spells at
TBWA and CLM/BBDO.
Both believe in hiring only professionals with at least eight years’
experience. They like to think of their account team, for example, as
consultants rather than client service directors.
Now with a staff of 85, Callegari Berville cites its client list as
evidence of the success of its policy of combining strategy, creativity
And it does have some good brands on its roster, such as Electricite de
France, Stella Artois and the newly acquired Danone. Like other
middle-sized agencies, however, it has also lost accounts through
international alignments, notably the much-mourned Seat.
UBACHS WISBRUN, THE NETHERLANDS
The question was which hot shop to choose from this, one of the world’s
most creative countries. The mould-breaking, uncompromisingly creative
KesselsKramer? A new venture started by the brilliant minds behind
Centraal Beheer’s world-famous ads, Schaeffer Wunsh Has? Or, our
eventual choice, the only agency of the three to have been set up by
both a suit and a creative, Ubachs Wisbrun?
A two-year-old agency that has already developed a strong international
feel to its ads, Ubachs Wisbrun is based in a large old hall with no
internal doors, and espouses such concepts as hot-desking and
Yet it has a reputation for doing so without losing sight of its brand
or its client focus.
The two founders, Wim Ubachs (the creative director), and Ralph Wisbrun
(the managing director), both come from big agency backgrounds: Ubachs
from Saatchi & Saatchi and Wisbrun from PPGH/JWT. They have since been
joined by another two partners, again one from each side of the
advertising discipline. The result is an ideas-based environment where
staff keep their feet on the ground and create campaigns that slip
readily into the everyday language of the nation.
Perhaps the best example is a series of ads created for the Netherlands’
leading tour operator, Holland International, for whom the 23-strong
agency came up with the concept ’vitamin v’, as in vacation. The agency
is equally proud of stylish work for the Rover Group, while its main
hope at Cannes this year was for another key client, the insurance
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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