Campaign International: Decision Maker Nick Baum - Former mole set to take BDDP to global audience/The charming president of BDDP France looks for radical solutions to his problems

I was warned that Nick Baum, the president of BDDP France, would charm me off my feet. According to Brett Gosper, the chairman of Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, I was to come face to face with ’one of the best ambassadors of this industry’.

I was warned that Nick Baum, the president of BDDP France, would

charm me off my feet. According to Brett Gosper, the chairman of Euro

RSCG Wnek Gosper, I was to come face to face with ’one of the best

ambassadors of this industry’.

When I met Baum, the charm was there in full force, but I was aware that

this amiable, solid figure of a man, who bears more than a passing

resemblance to Gerard Depardieu, can be as tough as old boots when


In the past, he has become embroiled in some testy agency politics.

During his 19-year stint at Ogilvy & Mather, he was, ironically, sent to

spy on BDDP to see if it would be a suitable acquisition. At the time,

BDDP was an agency with 14 people and in the 14 months that Baum was

there, the head of BDDP, having deduced his motives, simply ignored


Another proof of Baum’s steel was his previous incarnation at BDDP when,

in 1993, he was appointed international president of the troubled New

York agency, Wells Rich Greene BDDP. His brief was to raise the group’s

profile and stem the loss of clients such as Ford and Procter &


Baum reflects: ’Serious situations need radical solutions and, with

hindsight, we should have been bolder earlier. We should have kicked

arse a little harder, earlier.’

Baum is evidently at home at BDDP, after returning like the prodigal son

from a stint at Euro RSCG as the head of Europe, where he had tried to

boost the network’s fortunes outside France and make it a closer-knit

group. Explaining why he decided to return to BDDP, Baum says: ’It just

wasn’t my bag. I was longing to come back here, so when the opportunity

arose, I came back.’

Baum’s mission at BDDP is to give the network a broader international

outlook. One of the few criticisms levelled at BDDP is that it is too

parochial in its nature.

Baum is looking at agency acquisitions to strengthen the French


BDDP’s integrated agency, Jump, based in Lyon, is also branching out to

Paris through the acquisition of a similar agency, Bossa Nova. There is

also a plan to acquire a new company in the direct response arena, as

well as an opportunity to consolidate the company’s presence in the

entertainment marketing arena.

To fill a gap in its client base, Baum is setting up a division that

will seek out luxury goods advertisers, called BDDP Luxe.

The BDDP Group - despite being taken over by GGT, which was subsequently

taken over by Omnicom before being merged with TBWA in 1998 - has

retained its strong identity. In fact, it’s a stronger brand in France

than TBWA, hence it is still known as BDDP. It is the third-largest

group in the French market because, in addition to its creative

services, it is involved in other activities such as marketing services,

new media, corporate and financial communications and contract


With this rich mesh of services, Baum is positively evangelical about

the seamless integration between the individual businesses. ’The big

difference between this company and any other I’ve known is there’s no

inter-agency invoicing. There’s no split in communications and finder’s

fee at any domestic or international level.’

It seems that mergers have not made an impact on the creative agency’s

new-business record. In fact, according to Baum, it was number one on

the new-business league table last year. ’Despite 1999 being the first

post-merger year, we had a fantastic year. We had to repitch for six of

our clients and we won five of those.’ Clients such as Michelin,

McDonald’s, Absolut Vodka, BMW and Henkel have all been with the agency

for more than a decade.

Born in the US, educated at Marlborough College, England and now living

in Paris (and St Tropez on weekends) with his French wife and children,

Baum appears to be, as Gosper declares, ’the most global person you can


Whether or not a larger international role awaits Baum in his future

within BDDP, he seems at ease in his role of nurturing and growing an

ambitious network.


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