The Showcase 2022

Getting back to growth: AMV BBDO's 2022

A reshaped management team signalled a new ambition at the venerable agency

By Creative Salon

Well 2022 was something of a whirlwind at AMV BBDO as new CEO Sam Hawkey set about rejuvenating the agency and giving it back some real vim. By the end of the year there were clear signs that the once-mighty agency’s blood was pulsing again and ambition was back at the top of the agenda.

Now the reshaped leadership team of Hawkey, creatives Nick Hulley and Nadja Lossgott, strategist Tom White, and md Carmen Vasile have a new sense of purpose and a well-structured framework for growth.

Here CEO Hawkey gives us his perspective on the agency’s year and, below, Creative Salon takes AMV’s temperature.

Sam Hawkey, AMV BBDO's CEO, on his agency's year

What three words would you use to describe 2022?

People. Creativity. Effectiveness.

Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year?

UK's most awarded agency at Cannes with 2x Grand Prix and No.1 UK agency in the WARC Effective 100 2017-2022

D&AD Black Pencil for Collaboration with our friends at Essity and Gold at the CX Awards with our friends at Mars.

Creating a new way to build capability through our Open API approach.

Six new business wins.

Getting back to growth.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

The whole agency coming together. When it's your first year with an all new leadership team, people have to rally round the vision quickly and every person did that. And that is testament to the culture we have at AMV and the environment it has built over years and years - one that has positivity, respect and kindness at its heart. I would also say that above I've just picked just a few highlights that any other agency would be carried around London for, so I'm very proud of that too. Maybe we just need to be even louder and prouder next year.

And what’s been your biggest challenge?

Changing winds. It has been a year of that, probably even more so than last year. Never on a sure footing with supply chain issues, changing consumer emotions, political unrest, governmental instability, the energy crisis, cost of living, media inflation, talent crisis, etc - the list goes on. And as the saying (sort of) goes, when the wind changes you have to be able to adjust your sails and that has been the most challenging part of this year. It's probably also what makes this thing we do even more interesting.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

Going on the attack. Everything is in place and we took 12 months to get that right, so now it's all offensive.

And what one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?

Get behind the best work and really celebrate it. I heard some people complaining that adam&eveDDB won everything at a recent awards do for the same campaign - CALMs "The Last Photo". The other way of looking at it is that it's a brilliant idea that shows the power of what we do. So if you have to clap a few more times for it then great.

Creative Salon on AMV BBDO's 2022

AMV’s year began with a changing of the creative guard. Long-time CCO Alex Grieve joined BBH as global creative chief, making room for the elevation of multi award-winning duo Nick Hulley and Nadja Lossgott to take the creative helm. It was a seamless and natural succession and sealed the air of change that swept in with the appointment of Sam Hawkey as CEO in 2021. Alongside promotions for Carmen Vasile to md and Michael Pring to COO, the new leadership team was in place early enough to set a new momentum for the year.

A raft of creative promotions and hires followed. Michael Jones, Thomas Hazledine and Polina Zabrodskaya were promoted to creative partners alongside new recruit Andre Sallowicz from Adam & Eve/DDB. Mike Hughes and Dal Almeida (famous for the Trash Isles work on plastic pollution with LadBible) were lured back to the agency; Sergio Takahata and Nellie Santee joined from David in Miami; and Will Brookwell joined from Saatchi & Saatchi to work alongside Louis Prenaud who jumped from Omnicom's dedicated Peugeot team in Paris.

Not surprisingly, the agency’s work hit plenty of high notes, including campaigns for Guinness (particularly the affirming ‘Brothers’ film), some cheeky new additions to Maltesers’ Look on the Light Side campaign, and Periodsomnia for Bodyform/Libresse.

Top accolades at Cannes, including two Grands Prix for Hope Reef for Sheeba, and a D&AD Black Pencil show the agency still has world-class creative chops, with craft skills second to none.

New business wins included a global sustainability brief for BUPA and a platform brief for Hole19. The departure of Ford as part of a global realignment will dent the agency’s numbers but making the shortlist for Morrisons was proof the agency is back on the list for the biggest briefs.

Culturally AMV has a set of values baked in from its founders whose legacy is still a matter of real pride at the agency. In this spirit, AMV launched a new division, AMVxOpen, to help brands be more disability-inclusive, and ended the year with the launch of one of the boldest and most progressive employee benefit schemes in the industry. The Life Changes initiative embraces everything from support for mental health issues and those going through relationship breakdowns to financial contributions for those having fertility treatment or who are transitioning.

Creative Salon says: AMV’s creative credentials have never been in doubt, but somewhere along the line its mojo went astray. But in 2022 a new spirit of ambition was in evidence at the agency. New talent, new operating structures and a new cultural values system all came together to inject fresh energy into the sleepy giant. 2023 will be about focussing this energy into a new business drive that does justice to the top class talent and skills the agency can boast.


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