Last week, Societe Bic decided to give up its localised advertising
strategy and appointed TBWA to its $45 million worldwide account. The
Paris-based manufacturer of pens, razors and lighters has realised that
it needs a worldwide branding campaign to bolster its performance in
The ubiquitous Bic name is recognised and associated with several
products these days, although the company only produced pens when it
launched in 1953. Bic, created by the Frenchman, Marcel Bich, was born
at a time when pen manufacturers were popping up all over Europe
following the invention of the ball-point pen by the Hungarian, Laslo
Bic quickly set out on its path towards world domination by opening
offices in Italy, Spain and Brazil before acquiring the Biro Swan
factory in England in 1957. It then bought the North American Waterman
Pen Company in 1958, ensuring coverage of north and central America.
The company diversified into lighters in 1974 and into razors the year
after. It now holds the number one slot in the lighter market and is the
third-most famous French brand in the world after Dior and Chanel.
Bic hasn’t been as consistent with its advertising, however. The brand
has relied on celebrity endorsements - mainly in France - and
sponsorship deals, most notably with the Prost Formula One racing team,
which will end in 2001.
Bruno Bich, the chairman and chief executive of Societe Bic, explains:
’We have never done a global branding campaign, but we have done global
launch campaigns before. It seemed that now was the best time to do
The company continues to dominate the north and central American
According to its last annual report, the region accounted for 45 per
cent of income, with Europe providing 34 per cent.
Bich adds: ’We chose TBWA because we needed an agency that had a strong
grasp of consumer products and was capable of a strategy that could be
implemented. We want to be big everywhere.’