Why BBH said farewell to Sony

Hiring of Wolff Olins to create a new brand strategy led BBH to resign its Sony Ericsson account.

Sony Ericsson's decision to appoint Wolff Olins to develop a new brand strategy for the mobile phone manufacturer was the catalyst that led Bartle Bogle Hegarty to resign the global account last Friday. The business spends £8 million in the UK and an estimated £50 million worldwide.

BBH's and Sony Ericsson's press statements regarding the split concurred that it was an amicable decision, based on creative differences of opinion regarding the future direction of the brand, although they differed in that Sony Ericsson's claimed the decision was mutual.

However, BBH is understood to have been angered that it was not informed that Wolff Olins was working for Sony Ericsson until the new brand strategy was a fait accompli - five months after the appointment of the brand consultancy.

BBH is said to disagree fundamentally with Wolff Olins' brand strategy and the direction in which it would take the advertising.

A spokesman for Sony Ericsson said: "Sony Ericsson is a different company to the one we were five years ago. We are keen to take a step back, review and look at what options we have. It's perfect timing for us."

Sony Ericsson is scheduled to begin an agency hunt by mid-August. While the manufacturer would not confirm whether an intermediary would be handling the process, the company did say the search would be for a single agency or network to handle the task globally, rather than a market-by-market approach.

In the five years it has held the account, BBH has produced a string of high-profile ads for the brand. Current campaigns focus on the phones' music and photographic capabilities as the manufacturer has leveraged the Sony Walkman and Sony Cyber-shot brands into its phones. BBH's most recent work features the tennis stars Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic in an ad for the K800i Cyber-shot camera phone and runs with the line: "Never miss a shot."

Sony Ericsson was formed in August 2001 in a merger between Sony and the Swedish handset manufacturer Eric-sson. BBH beat Saatchi & Saatchi, the incumbent on Sony's mobile products in the UK, in a pitch in December the same year.

The review will not affect any other agency arrangements. Media is handled globally by Mediaedge:cia. Dare, in which BBH has a 25 per cent stake, handles the global digital account.