Strength in breadth: BMB's 2023

BMB's diversity of effective creativity won awards and new business in another good year for the agency

By creative salon

BMB's 2023 was about showcasing the diversity of its creative thinking, with a raft of work for the likes of Samsung, Farrow & Ball, Freenow, La Famiglia Rana, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and Menabrea.

But perhaps it was the agency's many campaigns for Breast Cancer Now that best illustrate its strength in breakthrough creative ideas. And not surprisingly ‘The Chat’ campaign it created for the charity, which included a messaging group chat drama series, won BMB several gongs at Cannes Lions - a fantastic achievement that many bigger agencies would covet.

We caught up with the creative shop’s chief exec Jason Cobbold to explore the agency’s successes this year.

Jason Cobbold, CEO of BMB, on the agency's 2023

What three words would you use to describe 2023?

Let it go.

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

  • Working with Breast Cancer Now on the UK’s first WhatsApp drama, 'The Chat'. This generated over £2.3 million of earned media from a simple, innovative idea about a cohort of friends supporting one individual through a diagnosis of breast cancer. It has picked up a host of awards including two Cannes Lions.

  • Winning the Kerry Dairy Foods account after a competitive pitch over the summer. This long-term contract will cover a range of brands including Kerry Gold, Strings & Things, Pure and the launch of a new-to-the-world brand in 2024.

  • The story of Italian pasta brand, Rana’s rapid growth in the UK. BMB developed Rana’s first big spending integrated UK campaign celebrating the brand as a closely guarded Italian secret. Since the campaign launch in the Autumn, the brand has increased dramatically in prominence and seen double digital growth across its accounts.

  • Forming a long-term partnership with University of Arts London in Spring 2023. We have helped to build parts of their course (and teach) in return for close creative collaboration on agency briefs.

  • Creating the world’s smallest commercial – a film about Samsung semi-conductors and their extraordinary power. The set for the commercial was made in an almost impossibly small scale (less than 1/50th the width of a human hair!), and then filmed with a unique nanoscopic camera.

  • Getting over 100,000 more kids in the UK playing tennis, after the development of the animated characters series – “The Tennisables”. Each character embodies a unique skill for learning the game of tennis – from Smash and Bounce to Slice. We also manufactured 55K real life character tennis balls as part of the programme.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

Breast Cancer Now’s WhatsApp drama, “The Chat”

And what’s been your biggest challenge?

Yo-yoing marketing budgets, and some shifts towards the short term.

What are you most looking forward to in 2024?

Renewed optimism and an appetite all round for innovation.

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

Standing behind and staying behind the Pitch Pledge.

Creative Salon on BMB’s 2023

BMB had an impressive beginning to the year winning the business of both the LTA and Italian beer company Menabrea. Most recently, the agency also won the Kerry Dairy Consumer Foods creative account and will soon take the helm of the strategy and creative for brands such as Strings and Things Kids Snacks, Pure, Dairygold and Charleville.

There was some changes on the management floor as CSO Mel Arrow departed to McCann, while BMB's business director Matt Bonny was promoted to head of account management.

BMB also partnered with University of the Arts London (UAL) in a new brief to shape its advertising industry course content in 2023 and give students a deeper insight into the creative communications industry.

But it was the extent - and breadth - of the output from BMB's creative department that really made the noise. Its debut work for the LTA - 'The LTA Tennisables' - saw BMB introduce six child-friendly characters in a bid to inspire more children aged 4-11 years old to play tennis. British professional tennis players Emma Raducanu MBE and Jack Draper starred in the campaign to support the LTA’s long-term mission to open up tennis to a wider audience, through their junior programme LTA Youth. BMB’s first campaign for Menabrea also aimed to showcase the Italian 'birra’ as the true taste of the Italian Alps through eight illustrations produced in collaboration with UK artist Paul Blow.

Talking of debut pieces of work for brands, BMB also created a new creative framework for Freenow, a mobility platform that provides multi-mobility services in a single app. ‘Feel Freenow’ taps into the insight that people want to experience cities without having to waste time thinking about how to get to certain destinations. The campaign’s film includes an enrapturing spinning zoetrope model.

The agency also unveiled innovative campaigns for Farrow & Ball, which saw BMB transform a product demo into art; and La Famiglia Rana which entailed the brand’s biggest UK launch to date. Most recently, the creative company released a film for Samsung showcasing and celebrating semiconductors, the nanoscopic ‘unsung heroes of technological progress’. The video included footage of microscopic miniature models which were filmed using an electron microscope.

As well as this plethora of work, BMB also created a series of powerful campaigns for research and support charity Breast Cancer Now. Its first campaign of the year was a UK first - a drama series that played out on a messaging app’s group chat. Featuring a talented cast of British TV actors - Rakie Ayola, Kate Ashfield, Claudie Blakley and Indira Varma - the campaign followed four friends as they navigated an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis together. The campaign - which hoped to inspire more honest conversations about experiences with breast cancer - went on to win two Lions at Cannes, one silver in the mobile category and one bronze in the PR category.

To add to this, BMB also launched a tactical ad to coincide with the day of the Women’s World Cup final (20 August) to encourage people to check for changes in the colour, texture or feel of their breasts.

An emotional 'If I had more time' campaign was also released later in the year and asked real people living with secondary breast cancer what they would do if they could be afforded more time.

Creative Salon says: BMB’s creative output this year has been extraordinarily diverse, so kudos to straight-talking, thoughtful CEO Jason Cobbold, CCO Matt Lever, and the agency's super-smart founding partner and chair David Bain. From its arrestingly powerful work for Breast Cancer Now to its exciting debut pieces of work for LTA, Menabrea and Freenow - the agency has illustrated its ability to develop creative solutions for all kinds of clients across different verticals. Winning the Kerry Dairy Foods account was also an impressive feat that shows the agency's new business chops.

So BMB is set very fair for 2024, with the work, wins and awards that prove the agency really packs a punch.


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