Bartle Bogle Hegarty is to make the most dramatic move in its 14-year
history by becoming the first British independent agency to set up in
the Far East.
BBH plans to have its office up and running by mid-October. It is
currently weighing up the comparative merits of Hong Kong or Singapore
as a base for the new venture.
Simon Sherwood, the current BBH managing director who has been with the
agency since it began, is to relocate to the Far East to head the
operation in a move that underlines the importance of the office to the
The new shop will not seek local business, focusing instead on cross-
border regional work. Motive, BBH’s media dependant, will be part of the
operation from the start.
Charles Garland, BBH’s group development director, will continue to
oversee the establishment of the venture until Sherwood’s arrival.
Sherwood is currently exploring the region with his family.
Martin Smith, the current agency deputy chairman and another BBH
stalwart, is to succeed Sherwood as managing director in London. Further
restructuring is expected when the agency moves offices within Soho in
BBH plans to open its Asian office with business from existing clients.
It says it now has international billings of pounds 100 million, and
that 13 of its 28 clients require international advertising.
Nevertheless, the news will surprise many in the industry, who have long
speculated that BBH would form an alliance with an American
multinational, or follow Leagas Delaney and set up shop in the US. The
latter move is still a possibility.
Nigel Bogle, BBH’s joint chief executive, said: ‘The reason we’ve been
looking east, while many people presumed we were looking west, is that
Asia Pacific is top of the priority list for many brand owners for the
foreseeable future, particularly the high-added-value brands that
populate our client list. We believe BBH has something to give
advertisers that is not there at present.’
He added: ‘We are not saying we are not going to look west - it’s a
question of priorities and timing. What this isn’t, is the beginnings of
a network. It is about making what BBH does more available - one agency
in more than one place.’