Campaign Supplement on BMP DDB 1968-1998: ’The jewel in DDB’s crown’ - Keith Reinhard, DDB Worldwide’s chairman, on how BMP is set to play a crucial role in the future of the network. By Karen Yates

DDB Worldwide’s chairman and chief executive officer, Keith Reinhard, is known as a polite and caring man but he doesn’t mince his words. ’We paid a lot. We expected a lot and we are getting a lot,’ he says of Boase Massimi Pollitt’s acquisition nine years ago. ’Yep’, he adds, half to himself, ’it was very pricey.’

DDB Worldwide’s chairman and chief executive officer, Keith

Reinhard, is known as a polite and caring man but he doesn’t mince his

words. ’We paid a lot. We expected a lot and we are getting a lot,’ he

says of Boase Massimi Pollitt’s acquisition nine years ago. ’Yep’, he

adds, half to himself, ’it was very pricey.’

We are talking about 1989 and why DDB’s holding company, Omnicom,

decided to buy BMP, despite its pounds 125 million price tag. Reinhard

is taking this opportunity to let a few old secrets out of the bag. Like

the time a year earlier when he flew Tony Cox - then the creative

director of DDB in London - to Venice to try to talk him out of leaving

the network to join BMP. He was successful. Cox stayed, only to find a

year later that BMP had, in effect, come to him.

For Reinhard, the acquisition was a chance to strengthen DDB’s hand in

London and buy into a successful, creative agency while keeping the

talented Cox on-side at the same time. However, his initial interest in

BMP goes back even further. He had had his eye on BMP’s planning

operations since meeting Jane Newman, one of BMP planning’s more famous

exports to the US, a few years before. Newman took her first

transatlantic job with Reinhard at Needham Harper in Chicago and,

although it didn’t work out, Reinhard liked what he saw and vowed to

learn more about BMP account planning.

The prospect of assimilating one of the strongest cultures in UK

advertising into the DDB fold did not daunt Reinhard. The enthusiastic

boss of DDB (then called DDB Needham) had already triumphed over a tough

assimilation job. Two years before, Reinhard had taken on the job of

bedding down the merger between Doyle Dane Bernbach - the highly

creative New York agency - with the more thoughtful, down-home,

middle-American Needham Harper.

Drawing BMP into the new DDB culture, by comparison, would be child’s


’There were the usual struggles by some people who had already gone

through one merger in London (Boase Massimi Pollitt with Davidson

Pearce), but no serious barriers. It took BMP a little time to realise

it was now part of a strong international brand, but it has worked out

very well,’ Reinhard affirms in his measured way.

The acquisition of BMP was DDB’s first tentative step into the global

expansion Reinhard knew he would have to make if the network were to

survive among the big boys; and he desperately wanted it to be a

success. It was.

BMP flourished in its new home, with creative fervour undimmed and

billings more than doubling to pounds 344 million, while the network

itself went from strength to strength. Since 1989, billings at DDB have

trebled through a mixture of judicious buying and organic growth.

’The BMP acquisition and integration was a model of the new strategy of

attracting the most creative local brands and combining them with a

strong global brand,’ Reinhard says. ’With BMP, because of their talent

and their intelligent approach, this has worked very well.’

In fact, the BMP path to fitting in without losing a strong local

character has helped convince other agencies that DDB might make a good


After BMP signed up to the family, Reinhard was able to tempt more of

the world’s hotshops into the fold, notably the Stockholm-based

Paradiset DDB, New Deal DDB and, more recently, Brazil’s most-awarded

agency, DM9.

’People kept asking where the next Bernbach was coming from,’ Reinhard

explains. ’My view was that if we were going to grow into a creative

network, we couldn’t do it from the centre. We had to find the best

shops and somehow bring them into the group. In that way, there would be

100 Bernbachs around - one in each country.’

Ahead of BMP’s 30th birthday, Reinhard is in an upbeat and effusive mood

and he goes so far as to call BMP ’a very precious jewel in DDB’s


Not only is it strong creatively and strategically, he enthuses, it also

makes a healthy contribution to the bottom line. Surely this must be

anniversary hype? Not everything in the garden can have been rosy all

the time?

’Well,’ Reinhard concedes, ’there was some squirming in the early days

about giving up some of its independence, but it has worked out very

well in the end. It’s been an excellent citizen. Not only has it made a

good contribution to the larger group, but it has always shown exemplary

behaviour when things go against its immediate local interest.’ This is

a particularly tender point for BMP, which was obliged to give up its

successful Courage account in the UK a few years ago to work on the key

DDB client, Anheuser-Busch. More recently, it was forced to cede Walkers

crisps as part of a global realignment within the Omnicom group.

So impeccable has been the behaviour of the ’gentleman’s agency’ that

BMP’s chairman, James Best, now oversees the whole of Northern Europe

for DDB - and the agency’s status as a centre of excellence is set to

play a crucial role in the future of the network.

Reinhard is more than happy to talk about what BMP has brought to the

DDB party - and what the network has delivered in return. ’We see BMP as

one of the best-managed agencies in the group,’ he declares. ’It is

profitable and it is fast-growing - the result of good creative and good

planning.’ In fact, BMP has become the hub of planning for the group and

Best has been asked to devise a strategy - called Springboard - for

transplanting its methods across the network’s 225 offices.

On the question of what DDB has done for BMP, Reinhard is very clear it

has been a two-way street. The first benefit, as he sees it, was to

broaden the horizons of a powerful British brand into that of a strong

international one. When the two linked up, BMP had virtually no

international business; now 35 per cent of its business is

international. One such client is Volkswagen, a signature account that

sealed the reputations of both Bernbach and DDB. Reinhard is similarly

clear about the benefits for BMP of having the steady financial support

of DDB as it prepares for the future.

This future is one in which the network moves beyond the simple making

of ads into all aspects of brand building. Indeed, this has already been

enshrined in a new mission statement thrashed out this summer by a top

trio, including BMP’s Cox. To meet this goal, Reinhard energetically

rides three different hobby horses simultaneously. The first is a drive

to recruit and retain the best people; the second is to ’build, buy or

bond’ with companies that will deliver all a client’s communication

needs; and the third is to figure out a better, more

performance-related, way to get paid.

This is the man who waited 16 years to win back McDonald’s from Leo

Burnett in the US. If he decides that, with BMP’s help, DDB will become

the industry leader in the new millennium, who are we to disagree?


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