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Bungey BSB DISCORD BUBBLES AS BUNGEY TAKES OVER

By Published on .

The power struggle between Maurice Saatchi and Charlie Scott holds center stage at Saatchi & Saatchi Co., but there are similar tensions in the wings at New York-based Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide.

Agency insiders said relations between BSB Worldwide Chairman Carl Spielvogel and his successor, BSB Worldwide CEO Michael Bungey, have become strained as Mr. Bungey takes more control at the Saatchi-owned network.

That control will be highlighted in June, when the agency drops Mr. Spielvogel's and the recently retired Bill Backer's names and is redubbed Bates Worldwide. The Bates name will also be integrated into the names of local agency offices around the world.

The change is being spearheaded by Mr. Bungey-who considered renaming the network Dorland Patterson Bates, reflecting its strong U.K. and Australian brand names-to better align the agency's global image.

Other moves by Mr. Bungey, including wide-ranging executive shifts, are believed to have rankled Mr. Spielvogel, who may retire at yearend.

"I have absolutely no comment on that whatsoever," Mr. Bungey said when asked about relations with Mr. Spielvogel. "People don't have to agree with everything all the time." Mr. Spielvogel wouldn't comment.

Tension between the men-who are said to communicate primarily through intermediaries-may have been assuaged temporarily this month when the agency won the lion's share of business under a closely watched review by Warner-Lambert Co.

Mr. Scott, Saatchi & Saatchi Co.'s chief executive, is said to have called the win "the best news" in his career with the holding company.

The business under review was largely composed of products previously held by Young & Rubicam, New York. Y&R lost the account early last month (AA, March 7) as a step in Warner's consolidation of its consumer billings-and those of its joint venture with Burroughs Wellcome Co., Warner-Wellcome-under two global agencies.

Backer, already a Burroughs Wellcome agency covering products like Actifed antihistamines, Sudafed cold medicines and Neosporin ointments, has gained an estimated $70 million in billings on top of its 1993 billings of $975 million. Among its new products are Certs mints, Benadryl antihistamines and Cinn-a-burst gum.

The agency also won Sinutab cold medicine and Bubblicious gum from J. Walter Thompson USA.

JWT, however, added an estimated $20 million in billings. The agency, which already handled Listerine mouthwash, Schick shaving products and Lubriderm lotions, has gained Efferdent dental care and Rolaids antacids, among other brands.

"We didn't consider Thompson as part of the review; we knew they would keep the bulk of their accounts. It's been frustrating to us and to them not to be able to confirm our support for their work," a Warner spokeswoman said.

She noted that Y&R's healthcare unit, Sudler & Hennessey, New York, continues to handle professional advertising for products like Benadryl, and Tucks and Anusol hemorrhoid treatments. An industry executive, however, said those accounts are likely to be reviewed in coming months.

For both Messrs. Bungey and Spielvogel, the win came at an auspicious time: Saatchi has said that revenue growth at its agencies is top priority, and the agency has engineered a management transfusion, of which Mr. Bungey was part, to bolster U.S. operations.

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