AD AGE DATAPLACE: 53RD ANNUAL AGENCY REPORT: BARTLE BOGLE HEGARTY LEARNS TO ZAG: INTERNATIONAL AGENCY OF THE YEAR: BLACK SHEEP HELPS CONSUMERS THINK NEW WAYS

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Can a tired-looking, full-size black sheep possibly symbolize a hot ad agency's work? Yes, for Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the London shop named by `Advertising Age International' its Agency of the Year (AAI, April 1997).

In the office of 52-year-old Chairman and Creative Director John Hegarty, the stuffed sheep was a gift from founding client Levi Strauss & Co. It harkens to the first ad BBH created: a flock of white sheep facing one direction while a lone black sheep faces the opposite way. "When the world zigs. Zag" read the 1982 ad.

BBH, the U.K's 14th-largest agency, has successfully zagged its way to gross income in 1996 of $38.9 million and billings of $291.3 million. International clients account for 43% of billings, up from just 7% six years ago, and include Polaroid Corp., Club Med and Levi's.

"We need to get consumers to rethink their choices, to provoke them," says Mr. Hegarty, who favors commercials without narrative for better communication across borders.

In other Ad Age Group agency selections, `Advertising Age's Creativity' selected as its Agency of the Year Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, and `Business Marketing' named NKH&W, Kansas City, Mo.

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