Stefano Hatfield on Advertising

BBH loses a fantastic boss who takes life and work at a Gallop
Click to follow
The Independent Online

In her seven years in New York, the flamboyant Gallop built BBH from scratch to more than 130 employees. Perhaps even more importantly she created that rare British import to Manhattan: a successful agency that won both business from serious clients and creative recognition.

High-profile campaigns for the likes of Levi's, Johnnie Walker whisky, Rolling Stone magazine and two Unilever campaigns, Liptons' Sizzle and Stir and Axe deodorant, put the agency on the map. Other clients like Pfizer, Sony Ericsson, Smirnoff, Baileys and Bulgari followed.

If her resignation, after adding Advertising Woman of the Year to the agency's US Eastern Agency of the Year award, was surprising, it was scarcely a shock. Last September, Glyn Jones, the former CEO of BBH London, replaced Gallop in that role in New York, a move never fully explained by the agency that's now part-owned by Publicis.

One possible reason is that despite her successes, and the fact that her single-minded dedication is more appreciated in New York than in London, Gallop might not be to everyone's taste in the US - particularly as the agency continues to attract ever more serious-minded clients.

With her taste for all things Gucci, notably leather bustiers and an endless procession of ever more wonderfully outrageous shoes, Gallop is thankfully not like other New York CEOs. She is a woman of great passions, be it for art, architecture, fashion or advertising. Yes, this enthusiasm extends to people too. Many of her staff adored her, and she them.

Earlier this year, Gallop threw a typically outrageous 45th birthday party in her new Chelsea loft with its black Gucci wallpaper. I would tell you more about it, but I wasn't invited as a journalist. Ask Jonathan Mildenhall, the former TBWA big cheese, who looks great in just a towel!

Gallop has a wonderful take-it-or-leave-it attitude about her. She told the US press this week that she was proudly "not bland". It's an attitude which, for most of its life, BBH has shared. It is arguably the single best agency I have written about, certainly the one which is most committed to its principles - and still successful. Its only competitors to my mind are America's Wieden & Kennedy and Goodby Silverstein.

What they each have in common is having principles at all. Also, they benefit from the continuing hands-on commitment of at least one of their original founding partners. However successful or respected their senior managers are; however well rewarded, BBH - like the others - will not be anyone but Nigel Bogle or John Hegarty's train set until they retire.

While Hegarty and Bogle are universally and deservedly admired in the advertising world, it would be naive to believe that they are easy to work for. Hegarty has found it difficult to hire his ideal creative director in New York (he has twice lived in Manhattan while trying), and the steely Bogle is famously never satisfied.

So I am sure that behind their predictably glowing tributes, there must have been clashes. All parties concerned are far too classy to let such private matters become public. But, my view? Yes, BBH is successful in New York, but perhaps it hasn't set the world on fire to the degree that perhaps BBH alone could. Gallop is an outstanding leader with a proven track record who had a bloody good run with the agency on three continents. She will be forever linked with BBH's global growth. And there is absolutely no doubt she will get another exciting job in New York; the city she loves and has decided to call home.

AS CARLTON'S head of sales Martin Bowley held one of the most powerful jobs in UK media. When Graham Duff got the combined ITV sales job, Bowley could have just gone off and counted his many bonuses, or opted for another safe big job. Instead he set up Amplified, "a new type of content communications company", together with Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy. Sadly, the idea failed to take off. Bowley went quiet - well, relatively. Now, he has popped up in New York, where he is helping Richard Desmond launch the US version of OK! magazine.

Bowley doesn't know the US particularly, and he doesn't know magazine sales. He also sold Carlton space when it was a virtual monopoly, and was quick to point out to buyers that they had little choice but to go with him, charging accordingly. He can be charming for sure, but he will need more than charm to sell to America's "show me the money" buyers. Still, Bowley has a lot of mates like Mike Greenlees (the second G in the old GGT) out there in the Greenwich, Connecticut, CEO ghetto and has long wanted to try his luck in the US.

Although it's unclear whether he is there for the long term (especially given Desmond's unpredictability), and the bookies would bet against him, he might just come up trumps. Desmond and Bowley are such an unlikely combination, the Americans won't know that on paper they should fail!

FIRST KFC, now Barclays. Fresh from heading off 1,671 (!) complaints to the ASA about its KFC ad featuring people singing with their mouths full (get a life, Britain), Bartle Bogle Hegarty is under attack for - allegedly - belittling sufferers of anaphylactic shock in its new Barclays commercial. Having once been rushed to the emergency room with a dramatic allergic reaction, and frequently coming up in hives like the elephant man, I am the last person to underestimate the potential seriousness of allergies. But I've got to wonder what happened to that internationally renowned British sense of humour?

If the British advertising industry is to retain its pre-eminent position in the world, it's got to be able to retain its ability to draw from, and portray, a more realistic version of life than many of its international competitors.

Stefano Hatfield is senior editor, Metro International

Stefano.hatfield@metro.us

Comments