BP's message

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As if more evidence was needed, BP Amoco is the latest marketer to subscribe to the vision of the future embraced by the architects of today's sprawling global ad agency networks. Managers of ambitious global brands will seek out giant global agencies, according to this world view. BP Amoco's abrupt move to the Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide network is more chilly news for shops that can't compete on that big stage.

The former British Petroleum is nothing if not ambitious. Its December 1998 acquisition of U.S.-based Amoco established it among the top three of the world oil business (and made the new BP Amoco the biggest company in the U.K., based on market capitalization). And it hopes to get bigger still by buying U.S.-based Atlantic Richfield Co.

Left on the roadside were BP Amoco's existing agencies, including BP shop Doner and Amoco agency Leo Burnett Co., both substantial agencies in their own right. They can only watch as O&M drives off with the global assignment, as it did in 1994 with IBM Corp.

In business, big is a word that seems to be redefined every passing year. That's why we're still not done with "big" agency mergers.

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