School Reports 2014: BMB

Thomson
Thomson

Score: 5  Last year: 6

It was all change at BMB. Two out of the three founders wanted to hire a new generation to run the shop, which proved more difficult than expected. It resulted in Andrew McGuinness leaving after nine years and the search for a chief executive stalling. Meanwhile, BMB lost its independence as the hands-off Cheil Worldwide increased its stake in the agency to 75 per cent. BMB opened an on-site PR shop, Seven Dials, in May and said goodbye to it in December, when it was bought out by its co-founder Simon Kelner.

Despite the rumbles within its four walls, BMB pulled off an impressive new-business haul, picking up 16 accounts including KP Snacks, East Coast, Legoland’s global business and the little-known Appliances Online, which claims to be planning a mammoth £30 million spend. On the other hand, Cobra and Grolsch were lost to Karmarama, while ING Direct ceased to be a client after a buyout.

Like its space enthusiast figurehead Trevor Beattie, BMB was eager to travel into the unknown and showed evidence of talent and eccentricity through its work. The experimental Vinetune, which crowdsources Vine videos to create a collage-style music video, was shortlisted for a Cannes Cyber Lion, while just-for-the-hell-of-it projects included the website hyphenkiller.com. McCain’s joyful "happy days" rhyming film, a giant cuppa for Yorkshire Tea and a holidaying ogre for Thomson were among the best traditional work.

Time will be the judge of whether a year of power struggles and evolution will leave the agency refreshed or shaky. Cheil is considered likely to buy the whole shop in the next few years. Only when the new management line-up is completed with the arrival of the chief executive, Juliet Haygarth, can BMB start to define its new identity.

How BMB rates itself: 7

BMB's year in a Tweet: We embraced change and it hugged us back. And we now feel as exhilarated and transformed as an office ogre on the holiday of a lifetime.

BMB
Type of agency Advertising
Company ownership Majority owned by Cheil Worldwide
Key personnel Trevor Beattie founding partner
Bil Bungay founding partner
David Bain partner
Matt Waller executive creative director
Neal Fairfield executive planning director
Nielsen billings 2013 £53m
Nielsen billings 2012 £103m
Declared income £13.4m (2012)
Total accounts at year end 51
Accounts won 16 (biggest: Legoland)
Accounts lost 4 (biggest: ING Direct)
Number of staff 91 (-11%)

Score key: 9 Outstanding  8 Excellent  7 Good  6 Satisfactory  5 Adequate  4 Below average  3 Poor  2 A year to forget  1 Survival in question

Footnote: *indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.

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