Claire Beale on Advertising: With Cheil deal, Trevor Beattie goes global
Monday 01 December 2008
If all goes to plan, by the time you read this, one of Britain's most famous admen will have inked a deal that sets his agency on the road to the rest of the world. Trevor Beattie is going global.
Beattie McGuinness Bungay, barely three years old and growing faster than any other agency in town, has sold a stake to perhaps the world's least famous advertising powerhouse: Cheil.
Who's Cheil, you're probably wondering. I'll tell you later because, of course, what you're really wondering is what's the stake and how much Beattie and Co made from the deal.
Eager readers, I'm sorry... the juicy bits are tantalisingly under wraps. Cheil has taken a 49 per cent stake and has paid "a lot of money" for it. All Mr Beattie will say is, "The price is right; we warrant the price tag and we'll prove it over the next few years". Hmm. Well, what sort of price tag would 100 per cent of BMB carry, Trevor? He settles on £60m... quite a premium for a company that made £1.5m in its last recorded accounts.
Trevor Beattie, Andrew McGuinness and Bill Bungay launched BMB back in 2005, and in short order they've grown the agency to almost 90 people, with a client list that includes McCain ("Chips, glorious chips"), Carling (remember last year's fabulous astronauts who couldn't get into a space nightclub because one of them was wearing trainers?), and Ikea (BMB came up with the "Not for Sale" campaign to persuade us to love our homes by furnishing them at Ikea).
And BMB launched with a determination to be more than just an agency that makes ads. It has designed the livery for a fleet of aeroplanes, put McCain chips into a play, and has a joint-venture publishing deal with Rocco Forte to produce a series of branded travel guides.
Without doubt, BMB has, in a short time, established itself as one of the better London agencies. But really, let's be honest, Cheil is buying into Trevor Beattie. Beattie is the famous one, the Brummie with the curls and the creative reputation around the world. He's the man who made "Hello Boys" happen; who created a new retail phenomenon, FCUK, for French Connection. He's probably the only ad creative working today whose name has reached well beyond the adland village.
After decades working in the business, where cynicism is so often the by-product of longevity, Beattie remains intensely and infectiously passionate about his work. And he's a persuasive salesman because of that.
Still, can he be serious when he says BMB, in its entirety, would be worth £60m? The truth is that BMB is worth exactly what someone's prepared to pay. And Cheil – anonymous here and lacking any real creative credentials, even in those markets where is has a presence – has been prepared to pay handsomely for its creative ticket. It can certainly afford to.
Cheil – a handy guide: it's South Korea's largest ad agency and the 16th largest in the world. Intriguingly, Cheil is owned by the electronics giant Samsung, and, not surprisingly, has the global Samsung advertising business on its books. Who'd like to bet that BMB won't get a sniff of the local Samsung ad account now?
Cheil has a stated aim of becoming a top-10 global agency by 2010, and hired British adman Bruce Haines as its global operations chief back in the spring. Haines has been dangling his purse around town for a while, and BMB had already been flirting with a number of suitors, most publicly Omnicom, where a deal is said to have collapsed at the 11th hour. But what Cheil gives BMB is the chance to take the BMB brand into America and around the world, with Beattie, McGuinness and Bungay still firmly in control. A micro-network is born.
"It's a fantastic vote of confidence in us and what we've achieved," Beattie says. "And I'm so up for it; it seems like it's start-up time all over again. Except that this time, we know what we're doing. It's the best thing that's ever happened in my career."Best in show: Orange gold spot (Mother)
*RIP the wonderful Orange Gold Spot ads by Mother that have been telling cinema-goers to turn off their mobile phones for the last few years.
Mother has just produced its last ad in the campaign before handing the baton to Fallon, the ad agency that does Orange's other work. What a shame. Because Mother's ads featuring Hollywood stars pitching movie ideas to hapless executives obsessed with mobiles has been one of the very best campaigns of recent years.
Still, they've gone out on a high with a spot starring Dennis Hopper pitching his movie on a bus. It's as beautifully written and acted (of course) as ever. Beat that, Fallon.
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