TOP PERFORMERS OF 1998: AGENCY OF THE YEAR - BMP DDB/Consistently outstanding creative work alongside top-notch account handling and planning saw the agency soar head and shoulders above the competition

No-one outside of TBWA’s Whitfield Street office will be surprised that BMP DDB is Campaign’s unanimous choice for agency of the year. From a shortlist of three that also included Mother, BMP emerged as our least controversial winner in years for three clear reasons: first, it is currently setting the standard creatively and proving that big can be beautiful; second, a superb new-business performance; and third, the all-round quality and professionalism the agency displays from its enviable management line-up downwards.

No-one outside of TBWA’s Whitfield Street office will be surprised

that BMP DDB is Campaign’s unanimous choice for agency of the year. From

a shortlist of three that also included Mother, BMP emerged as our least

controversial winner in years for three clear reasons: first, it is

currently setting the standard creatively and proving that big can be

beautiful; second, a superb new-business performance; and third, the

all-round quality and professionalism the agency displays from its

enviable management line-up downwards.



The outstanding standard of the work provides the most compelling

argument - across an impressive range of clients and in all media. It’s

arguably been the best work in town for the past three years. And, when

WCRS’s Larry Barker joined the agency in January, rivals must have

groaned as the inheritance of the John Webster/Tony Cox years was

secured.



Volkswagen, once again, was the best work in the UK last year. It could

have won both advertiser and campaign of the year too, such was the

all-round excellence. It’s more remarkable because 1997 was such a regal

performance.



The VW Passat ’obsession’ work continued to excel, with the ’ruler’ and

’garage’ television executions.



The new VW Golf was launched with an acclaimed commercial (even if the

print wasn’t quite up to the outstanding standards of everything

else).



The VW Sharan print work was excellent, and the best of the bunch proved

to be the Polo ’protection’ campaign - also a clear winner of our

campaign of the year accolade. It’s the consistent excellence in each

medium that makes Polo the gold standard.



But it’s not just about VW. Sony is superb too. This year the Campaign

Poster awards gold went to the Sony batteries campaign. We’re sure the

Frank Budgen-directed Sony ’stamina’ commercial will also figure high at

awards shows in 1999. Other gems included the two Walkers swansongs,

’Matthews’ and ’Romario’. Autoglass, Nicorette, Barclaycard and Marmite

are all top class - and even ONdigital looks like the start of a

campaign with legs.



Of course, the Walkers loss was sad - proof of the madness of some

international realignments. The other significant loss was Thomson

Holidays.



But these were more than offset by the COI’s pensions business,

Spillers, Camelot’s tie-up with Vernons, the National Savings account,

Compaq, Guardian Direct, Nicorette, Scoot, the massive ONdigital launch

account and retaining Barclaycard against the odds.



In the 30th anniversary year of both Campaign and BMP, it is fitting the

agency that came top of our 30-year creativity league (Campaign, 18

September 1998) should win our most coveted prize. Its major challenge

now appears to be to solve the problem of Chris Powell’s succession with

the same elan that brought Barker back to the agency.



As ever in 1998, we were not comparing like with like. Mother could not

have done much more under its own terms. Robert Saville and Co produced

excellent work for accounts such as Lilt, Trebor and Batchelors Super

Noodles and Pasta ’n’ Sauce. If there was one thing against the agency,

we felt much of the work was executed in the same style.



TBWA was the agency merger from hell - at least on paper. The coming

together of the recently merged BST, BDDP, GGT, TBWA and Simons Palmer

had ’nightmare’ written all over it.



But once the necessary hard choices - such as the re-hiring of Trevor

Beattie as executive creative director of the whole caboodle just a year

after his resignation from TBWA - were taken, then the agency was

clearly on the right track.



While the talents of Paul Simons are not currently being exploited to

the full, Bainsfair, Clemmow and Johnson form a formidable trio,

allowing Beattie free rein.



The merger resulted in nothing more terrible than the loss of Virgin

Direct to Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe - an amazing achievement,

although some may say losing Nike in the merger process was very

damaging, particularly to the future agency’s creative reputation.



But NatWest, the win of the year, bestowed a new credibility on the

combined force that other agencies take years to achieve. The whole

NatWest village concept proved how nimble the new management is on its

feet.



Excellent work for French Connection, Pretty Polly Niks and Sony

Play-station confirmed the agency’s growing creative reputation. It also

managed to crack the difficult brief of selling the Euro to the

public.



Agencies such as Young & Rubicam, Leagas Delaney, Rainey Kelly Campbell

Roalfe and WCRS all continued to make excellent progress. HHCL &

Partners and Partners BDDH bounced back from recent difficulties. Y&R’s

achievement, in particular, makes it an agency worth watching.



But it was BMP’s year. And while he’s sometimes strangely over-looked,

Tony Cox’s performance is worth making special note of. Four years ago,

he wasn’t happy with his department and openly stated he was going to

grab it by the scruff of the neck and shake it up.



His success proves that investment in creativity pays off. Particularly

when it’s allied to excellent planning and top-notch account

handling.



It’s the depth of talent across all disciplines that makes BMP so hard

to beat. It will be the agency to beat next year too.



Past winners: St Luke’s (1997), Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO (1996, 1995),

HHCL (1994), Bartle Bogle Hegarty (1993), BMP DDB Needham (1992).



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