Publicis Groupe has acquired 51 per cent of the shares of Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) Network – The group has already held a 49 per cent stake for many years – from its Founders Nigel Bogle and Sir John Hegarty, and their partners, bringing the Groupe’s ownership to 100 per cent now.
The group has also acquired 100 per cent of the shares of NEOGAMA/BBH in Brazil (34 per cent from BBH and 66 per cent from its founder, Alexandre Gama and his partners).
NEOGAMA/BBH is one of the most creative and innovative Brazilian agencies, with an impressive list of successful achievements making it a top creative agency in the Brazilian market. BBH is one of the world’s legendary agencies. Founded in London in 1982 by John Bartle, Nigel Bogle and Sir John Hegarty, the agency has produced many highly acclaimed campaigns over the past three decades including ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ for Audi, ‘Keep Walking’ for Johnnie Walker, ‘To Fly. To Serve’ for British Airways, ‘The Axe Effect’ for Axe and ‘The Web is what you make of it’ for Google, to name a few.
This year, BBH won 21 Cannes Lions, including the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix and four Gold Lions. BBH has developed a micro-network, with offices in London, New York, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Shanghai, Mumbai and Los Angeles, and employs some 1000 professionals worldwide. Revenue for the BBH micro-network (excluding Brazil) reached 112.2 million euros in 2011. Publicis Groupe has held a minority share of 49 per cent of the agency since 2002, when the group acquired Bcom3.
In an official release, Maurice Lévy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe said, “My relationship with Founders Nigel Bogle, Sir John Hegarty and Alexandre Gama spans a decade – years in which I developed great admiration for the exceptional achievements of these legendary talents and their agencies, the remarkable work they create for their clients, and their magnet to attract talent and clients. These transactions will enable the unification of the BBH network. Publicis Groupe has been a good partner to BBH and NEOGAMA/BBH over the past ten years; we’ve managed to understand
the rare and special company ethos of BBH, its symbol (the black sheep) and its community of men and women, who are recognised as some of the best professionals in our industry. Faithful to our motto, ‘Viva la Difference’, we have decided, together with Nigel, John and Alexandre, to engineer an integration that will preserve and protect their specific culture, their working methods, and the characteristics of the agencies through an approach of ‘autonomy inside’ the Groupe.”
“Thus all the ingredients that have enabled the success of BBH and NEOGAMA/BBH will be protected, today, tomorrow and in the long term. BBH’s management will continue to be independent and the network will develop in its own way, in its own style, while benefiting from the support of Publicis Groupe’s resources to accelerate its growth both geographically and via the expansion of its capabilities into more diverse areas. I’m very proud that the founders and teams of BBH and NEOGAMA/BBH have chosen to join us,” added Lévy.
NEOGAMA/BBH’s story is very close to that of BBH’s, hence their agreement. The campaigns developed by Alexandre Gama’s brilliant creative agency for clients including Banco Bradesco, Johnnie Walker-Diageo, TIM, OMO and Renault are among the most powerful and famous ever produced in Brazil. Headquartered in Sao Paulo, with an office in Rio de Janeiro, NEOGAMA/BBH employs a staff of approximately 270. NEOGAMA/BBH’s 2011 revenue reached 42.2 million euros. NEOGAMA/BBH will retain its name and will continue to be led by its Founder and Chief Creative Officer Alexandre Gama. Two of NEOGAMA/BBH’s affiliate agencies, Triacom and Made in Moon, units providing digital and retail consulting services respectively, also become part of Publicis Groupe through this deal.
Nigel Bogle, Founder of BBH said, “The decision was very clear. We were looking for an opportunity that would ensure that our agency maintained a high degree of autonomy and could continue to abide by the values characterized by the black sheep. The key point for us was the preservation of our operational independence in managing the BBH brand, which has produced almost uninterrupted growth for thirty years. The new ownership not only ensures our autonomy, but brings us considerable advantages through Publicis Groupe’s resources and global infrastructure.”
Alexandre Gama, Chief Creative Officer of NEOGAMA/BBH added, “This is an exciting development for NEOGAMA/BBH and we are particularly proud to become a 100 per cent BBH agency within Publicis Groupe. The move brings scale, global reach and numerous opportunities, which translates into good news for our clients, our teams and our agency’s future.”
Thirty years after the creation of BBH, Nigel Bogle and Sir John Hegarty have chosen to assure the
long-term success of their agency via this transaction – which guarantees its future and autonomous functioning as a micro-network within Publicis Groupe – and have set in place a new management structure capable of carrying out its future promise.
Sir John Hegarty has appointed Alexandre Gama to succeed him as Worldwide Chief Creative Officer (WCCO). Simon Sherwood, previously Group Chief Executive Officer, takes over as Group Chairman. Gwyn Jones, who joined BBH as part of the first graduate intake in 1987, becomes Group Chief Executive Officer and Neil Munn, CEO of BBH’s brand ventures company Zag, takes on the Group Chief Operating Officer role in addition to his current role.
Nigel Bogle, Founding Partner and Sir John Hegarty, Founding Partner – Creative, will remain active on client business but will transfer executive responsibility to this management team. In addition to remaining closely involved with many BBH key accounts, Nigel Bogle will also continue to coach and mentor the new management team. Given his stature as a celebrated global creative leader, Sir John Hegarty will continue to champion creativity and represent BBH on the global stage as well as key client assignments.
Sir John Hegarty said, “Creativity is at the very heart of BBH. The quality of our work and the people who produce it have always been central to our success and will continue to be so into the future.”
The Board of the BBH holding company will consist of three members of the Publicis Groupe Management Board – Maurice Lévy, Jean-Yves Naouri, and Jean-Michel Etienne – as well as Steve King, Global CEO of ZenithOptimedia, Nigel Bogle, Sir John Hegarty and Simon Sherwood. This board will delegate full responsibility and authority for the day-to-day management and operation to a BBH Global Management Team led by Gwyn Jones.