School Reports 2016: Bartle Bogle Hegarty


Another mixed year for Bartle Bogle Hegarty, but one that started with a bang: Tesco moved its £110 million business into the agency without a pitch.

Although the subsequent Christmas TV spots appeared to be a creative misstep, the supermarket’s results beat expectations.

To take on the Tesco business, BBH had to end its relationship with Waitrose. The rationale was obvious, but some interpreted the move as a sign of Publicis’ increasing influence.

Eyebrows were raised again when BBH won the Heinz European creative account after a pitch described by the IPA as "shocking". But it’s a different market now and it would be unfair to always hold BBH to a higher standard than others.

After losing Johnnie Walker in 2014, BBH terminated its relationship with its Diageo parent – Gordon’s went to Anomaly and Baileys to Mother. The agency’s 16-year association with Barnardo’s also ended on a sour note, while a significant Axe project was handed to 72andSunny.

The stalwarts Jim Carroll and Charlie Rudd left but the veteran star creative Paul Silburn, formerly of Saatchi & Saatchi, returned to BBH in 2016.  

BBH showed it can still dazzle, convincing the BBC to hand over its Strictly Come Dancing brief with an all-agency dance routine. It also helped to sell 2.4 million tickets for the Rugby World Cup and produced eye-catching work for Samsung.

The agency launched the video production arm Black Sheep Studios and Live, a social media unit that went on to win a European brief from Heinz.

The winds of change continued to blow up Kingly Street last year. But with a renewed focus on creativity, the agency will be hoping that it is the work making the headlines in 2016.

How the agency rates itself: 6

"Not vintage, but better. Won the UK’s biggest retailer without a pitch. Sold 2.4 million tickets for the Rugby World Cup and created The Samsung School of Rugby. Rebranded London Fashion Week. Saved 45 lives with our St John Ambulance campaign. Got the nation dancing #thestrictly for the BBC. Launched Live and Black Sheep Studios and grew Sport and CRM. New BBH capabilities were built. It’s time to convert creative capability into creative excellence."

Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Type of agency Creative
Company ownership Publicis Groupe
Nielsen billings 2015 £241m
Nielsen billings 2014 £225m
Declared income n/s*
Total accounts at year end 43
Accounts won 9 (biggest: Tesco)
Accounts lost 7 (biggest: Diageo)
Number of staff 446 (+4%)
Women in senior management 36%
BAME staff in senior management 8%
Key personnel Nick Gill executive creative director
Jon Peppiatt, chairman
Ben Fennell, chief executive
Mel Exon, managing director

Score key: 9 Outstanding  8 Excellent  7 Good  6 Satisfactory  5 Adequate  4 Below average  3 Poor  2 A year to forget  1 Survival in question

Footnote: *indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.