EDITORIAL: Global players still need local identity

It was bound to happen. There's no room for sentimentality in the ever-evolving world of marketing communications. DDB is to drop the BMP from its London name.

But sentimentality is only a small part of the argument against such a step. In the UK, BMP stands for something; DDB doesn't.

The names Boase Massimi Pollitt are an important part of what has been great about UK advertising over the past 35 years. BMP is intrinsically associated with some of the best advertising ever, including long-running campaigns for John Smith's and Volkswagen.

Its pioneering planning heritage, too, is another of the values packed into the BMP brand.

But times are hard and the powers-that-be at DDB are looking to their global clients to ease the pain. Their logic is that how can DDB present itself as a unified network when it has numerous sub-brands dotted around its operations in the rest of the world.

This is a serious argument. Look at McCann-Erickson. The name is the very definition of a seamless network. And one of the ways McCann has built this image is by not deviating from the McCann-Erickson brand. Evidence of this is what happened to its former European chief, Ben Langdon, when he suggested renaming the London outpost to a variation of McCann Langdon: he was out before he could even try to say "only joking".

In the global market, DDB does have creative values attached to its brand (its Cannes Grand Prix-winning "whassup?" campaign for Budweiser being one exponent). However, locally DDB stands for very little and DDB must not forget that the strongest networks derive as much income from local clients as they do from pan-regional ones. After all, it is the local clients that are most likely to commission boundary-stretching advertising campaigns.

Although BMP is braced for change, Omnicom's chief executive, John Wren, has yet to ratify the decision. So there is a faint hope that BMP won't be confined to history. Otherwise we have to start wondering how long it will be before we lose the Abbott, Mead and Vickers names from the advertising lexicon.

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