Spotlight On: Media Dependants: What difference will the new name make to BMP’s media?

BMP DDP is busy changing its media label rather than its brand. By Alasdair Reid says investigates.

BMP DDP is busy changing its media label rather than its brand. By

Alasdair Reid says investigates.

The BMP DDB media department succeeded for years in maintaining a

classic ’best of both worlds’ balancing act. If you wanted, it could be

the full-service agency media department - one of the last in town -

able to spout all the touchy-feely stuff about the sacrosanct status of

planning and the importance of sitting within spitting distance of the

people with funny haircuts in the creative department.

On the other hand, when media-only business was up for grabs, it gave

more than a passing impression of being a dyed-in-the-wool media


It topped Campaign’s media-only new-business league table last year,

with pounds 50 million in wins, including Vodafone and HMV. It has also

won its fair share of centralisations, such as British Gas and


Wasn’t it Chris Powell, BMP DDB’s chief executive, who once described

his agency as a ’media specialist with a nice little creat-ive

department tacked on to the side’? That’s more accurate than ever.

Or it will be when BMP Optimum launches on 7 April, headed by Paul

Taylor and Derek Morris (Campaign, last week).

So why change anything at all? Morris, the joint media director of BMP

Optimum, says that it is a re-labelling rather than a rebranding. ’In

the past, media departments set themselves up as so-called dependants

usually for one of two reasons - they wanted to distance themselves from

an ailing agency or they felt they had to relaunch a media product that

wasn’t working. We clearly haven’t needed to do that - 60 per cent of

our business is on direct contract with the client, not passed through

to us from the the agency,’ he states.

The decision was perhaps influenced by the department’s United Biscuits

experience a couple of years ago. BMP won the media centralisation

pitch, only to be told that it wasn’t going to get the business. The

media department didn’t work for Walkers but the main agency clearly did

and its award-winning work - a thorn in the side of UB’s parent, KP -

was plastered all over the reception area. The UB people said they

weren’t going to sit in front of those Walkers ads, so the business went


Morris concedes that conflicts will be easier to handle in the future,

but says that the main point is to ’clarify what we are’.

Maybe so, but is this initiative a bit off the pace? Will there be

problems in coming relatively late to the market? Morris says not - and

other late developers agree. ’BMP Optimum will have no problems in the

transition,’ Mark Cranmer, the managing director of Motive, predicts

’This is further recognition that media is no longer a mechanical

service but about providing strategic differentiation and real


Mike Smallwood, the chief executive of the newly launched Western

International Media, agrees: ’BMP has always done a good job of planning

and buying.

If it gets the structure right, there is no reason it can’t continue to

do that.’

Cranmer and Smallwood elected to drop all reference to their agency

heritage - Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Lowe Howard-Spink respectively -

from their newly branded operations.

Optimum is the branding for DDB’s media operations across Europe. Is

this all about the internal politics of Omnicom, BMP DDB’s parent


Is BMP saying: ’We’ll acknowledge the DDB network but will never be

submerged by it’?

No, this is nothing to do with corporate mind games, counters Morris -

though heritage is important.

’Having the initials BMP in our name lets everyone know that you will

get something from us that you won’t get by going to Zenith or TMD. The

surname may be Optimum but the Christian name is still BMP.’