TBWA GGT MERGER: TBWA and GGT unveil merged shop

Marketing wisdom says it is easier to launch a product with a known brand name. So while the name for the long-awaited merged agency, spawned from TBWA Simons Palmer and BDDP GGT, will win no prizes for originality - it has been christened TBWA GGT Simons Palmer - it will make history in other ways.

Marketing wisdom says it is easier to launch a product with a known

brand name. So while the name for the long-awaited merged agency,

spawned from TBWA Simons Palmer and BDDP GGT, will win no prizes for

originality - it has been christened TBWA GGT Simons Palmer - it will

make history in other ways.

First, by leaping straight into the top five UK agency rankings with 250

staff and billings of pounds 250 million. Second, it marks the first

time that four shops have merged to make one in such a short period of


News of the London merger followed the confirmation last Friday from

Omnicom in New York that TBWA International and GGT plc are finally to

be brought together, with the London agencies kicking off the process.

The move has been on the cards since January when Omnicom acquired GGT,

which had bought the BDDP network in September 1996.

The merger signals the return of Paul Bainsfair to adland’s premier


He ran Saatchi & Saatchi during its period of extraordinary growth and

confidence in the 80s, then left in 1990 to found the BDDP-backed

agency, Bainsfair Sharkey Trott. Bainsfair must now prove he can operate

without his long-term business partner, John Sharkey, who left for

Manpower a couple of months ago. ’I’m used to running a big agency. This

feels like a proper home,’ Bainsfair says.

The merger also means Trevor Beattie has recaptured control of the

creative department he left in January 1997, when he walked away from

TBWA following its merger with Simons Palmer, later emerging as creative

director of GGT. This time, Tony Moore and Guy Malcolm - currently the

joint creative directors at TBWA Simons Palmer - are likely to come to

an ’amicable settlement’ and leave. Meanwhile, the workaholic Beattie,

whose contract reportedly stipulates that he alone will carry the

creative director title, will return to run the show.

This is Beattie’s 11th merger in 16 years.’I joined GGT because the work

was culturally similar to what I’d done at TBWA,’ he says. ’On paper,

this is four agencies becoming one. In reality, it’s a reunification of

the department I had before, only bigger.’

As chairman, Bainsfair will run the new agency with Carl Johnson, who

will be chief executive. Bainsfair will take charge of new business and

have a more outwardly focused role. Johnson, a supremely confident

account man, will mastermind the internal running of the agency. The

pair obviously relish the chance to give London’s leading agencies a run

for their money.

Bainsfair says: ’There’s a cosy collective of big agencies who run the

show now. This is our chance to muscle in on that and upset the status


Usually, agency mergers throw up a handful of account conflicts along

with redundancies. But this deal, as many have speculated over recent

months, appears to carry with it plenty of cultural similarities and

some enticing potential cost savings. There are few client clashes other

than TBWA’s British Heart Foundation and Marston’s business with GGT’s

Marlboro/Philip Morris and John Smith’s.

Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow Johnson broke away from GGT in 1988, so

both agencies represent British-based, entrepreneurial and, in their own

words, ’bullshit-free creatively driven’ cultures. Chief among the

potential cost savings will be moving the two agencies into one building

in Whitfield Street, now occupied by TBWA Simons Palmer. GGT’s Dean

Street offices will eventually be the home for the international

interests of TBWA Worldwide.

Paul Simons, currently chief executive of TBWA Simons Palmer, will also

move to Dean Street as the chairman of the newly formed TBWA UK group, a

collection of marketing services companies encompassing Tequila Option

One, BDH Communications, Maher Bird Associates, Manning Gottlieb Media

and others. Simons will report to Michael Greenlees, who has been

confirmed as the president and chief executive officer of TBWA


The deal triggers the 100 per cent takeover of Simons Palmer by Omnicom

(its initial stake, acquired in 1997, was for about 60 per cent of the

agency), bringing a cash windfall for Simons, Johnson and the third

remaining founding director, Simon Clemmow, who is to be joint executive

planning director.

Simons describes his new role as ’a great brief’, one of ’nurturing and

evolving the collective resources of one of the UK’s most significant

marketing services groups in collaboration with the managers of each


However, speculation about the unwillingness of Simons and Bainsfair to

work closely together seems to be well founded, for Bainsfair and

Clemmow will report to Jean-Marie Dru. Previously the chairman of BDDP

Worldwide, Dru now assumes the title of president and chief executive

officer, international, and will be based in Paris. Bainsfair says: ’It

was important to me that Paul Simons was not involved on a day-to-day

basis. Carl and I want it to be clear that the London agency is


The new shop - inevitably it will be known simply as TBWA - will have

lots of senior account men. GGT brings five deputy chairmen who run

certain pieces of business: Paul Leeves (who continues as a ’roving

creative ambassador’); Dick Butler (Cadbury); Nick Kerr (Thomas Cook);

John Allen (Hertz, Le Shuttle, Manpower) and Graeme Arkell (Flextech,

Wrigley, Pretty Polly).

But Bainsfair counters: ’We intend to give our senior suits lots of

autonomy in the style of the old Saatchis. The question isn’t why we

have so many good senior people, it’s why have the other big agencies

got 28-year-olds running big bits of business?’





Beiersdorf: Nivea




Green Flag


News International


Ocean Spray

Seagram (Absolut Vodka, Chivas Regal)

JA Sharwood

Sony Computer Entertainmt

Virgin Direct



Blockbuster UK


Do It All Eurotunnel

French Connection


HP Bulmer

Marlboro/Philip Morris


Pretty Polly

Scottish Courage

(John Smith’s, Holsten)

Telewest Communications

Thomas Cook


Wrigley Company