W. H. Smith has chosen Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO to handle the creative
sideÿ20of its pounds 11 million 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 concluded
when BBH resigned 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 clients.
Baulk also confirmed that media would remain with BBH’s media arm,
‘For the time being, media will remain where it is - this was not a
media pitch,’ he said.
Baulk continued: ‘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
The pitch began in March when four agencies - Abbott Mead, Saatchi and
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 so on.
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 available earlier this year when BBH
resigned the business after failing to reach agreement with the retailer
over its advertising strategy. BBH had handled the business since 1991,
when it won it from DMB&B, which had run the account for more than 20
BBH’s first work marked the start of the controversial ‘we don’t
sell...’ press and poster campaign. This aggressive strategy was axed a
year later and replaced by the gentler line: ‘There’s more to life with
W. H. Smith.’