OPINION: BBH suffers from spate of bad client behaviour

Bartle Bogle Hegarty has maintained a dignified silence over its loss, after only five months, of the pounds 25 million Bausch and Lomb account (Campaign, last week) on the principle that if you can’t say something good, it’s best to say nothing at all.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty has maintained a dignified silence over its loss,

after only five months, of the pounds 25 million Bausch and Lomb account

(Campaign, last week) on the principle that if you can’t say something

good, it’s best to say nothing at all.



This is the story of an advertiser driven, if not by dishonesty, then by

downright disingenuousness.



It began in June, when Bausch and Lomb announced its plan to implement a

global marketing strategy ‘to leverage the worldwide power’ of its

flagship Ray-Ban brand. Bausch and Lomb fired Leo Burnett (in Asia),

Young and Rubicam (in Europe) and the Arnell Group (in the US), and

appointed BBH globally. Client and agency corroborated the story and

Campaign printed it on the front page. Apart from a row over the Arnell

Group’s severance, that seemed it. But no.



Soon after appointing BBH, Bausch and Lomb made personnel changes in the

US. BBH had already produced some films and press work, but a previously

good relationship soured. As was apparent from Campaign’s calls to the

agency last week, BBH believed that the situation could be resolved.

Meanwhile, the client told Campaign it had ‘terminated’ BBH’s contract.

Bozell Worldwide appears to be the winner.



Such behaviour does nobody any favours. BBH has invested time, money and

effort in making its case. Bozell starts off in the insecure knowledge

that its appointment has been made in a messy and underhand manner.



Story after story in Campaign over the past year reflects similarly

grave breakdowns in trust between clients and agencies. The RAC, Saab,

Baileys, Bass and Elida Faberge (on that occasion, in BBH’s favour) have

moved business without telling the losing agencies until Campaign forces

it out of them. But whoever is the winner and whoever the loser, this

kind of client behaviour is as dishonourable and vindictive as it is

mischievous.



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