10 May, 1996
W. H. Smith has chosen Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO to handle its pounds 11
million creative advertising account.
The decision closes a turbulent chapter in W. H. Smith’s advertising
history, which began with the sacking of the incumbent, Bartle Bogle
Hegarty, two years ago, continued with its reinstatement and ended with
BBH resigning the account in February.
Michael Baulk, the chief executive of Abbott Mead, said the win would
not cause a conflict with Sainsbury’s, one of the agency’s key
Baulk also said that media would remain with BBH’s media arm,
Baulk said: ’It is a major brand opportunity for us and an opportunity
for famous advertising for W. H. Smith. It’s one of those situations
where a brand and a business can benefit from a famous advertising
The pitch process started in March when four agencies - Abbott Mead,
Saatchi & Saatchi, BMP DDB and Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters - were asked
to come up with big advertising ideas that could be applied to each of
the key phases in W. H. Smith’s year - ’back to school’, ’Christmas’ and
This list was later whittled down to two, with Abbott Mead and Duckworth
Finn both presenting to senior management last week. At the same time,
each agency’s pitch ideas were put into research, with the Abbott Mead
ideas proving to be the most successful.
The W. H. Smith account became free earlier this year when BBH resigned
the business after failing to reach agreement with the retailer over its
strategy. BBH handled the business since 1991 taking over from DMB&B,
which had run the account for more than 20 years.
AMV’s work for W. H. Smith, which featured the actor, Nicholas
Lyndhurst, playing four members of a family, proved to be hugely
popular, regularly winning Campaign’s People’s Jury choice.
In 1997, viewers voted the series their favourite ad.