No End in Sight For Troubles At FCB in S.F.

With the loss of one client and another contacting agencies about its business last week, Foote, Cone & Belding could face more layoffs here.
Geoff Thompson, the office’s new chairman, chief creative and chief executive officer, laid off 35 staffers a few weeks ago after a string of account losses that started with Levi Strauss & Co. last year.
The agency lost planning and buying duties for the $20 million corporate image business of Seagate Technology to Carat Freeman, San Francisco, when FCB vice president and media account director Julie Rieger moved there a few weeks ago (FCB retains creative duties). Rieger and Seagate did not return calls.
Last week, sources said, online book seller Amazon.com put FCB on notice and began contacting other agencies about its $10-20 million account. Amazon.com vice president of marketing Allen Olivo, formerly of Apple Computer, is heading the effort. FCB last week launched a new campaign for the e-commerce site, an account it has handled since 1997.
The agency–with billings of roughly $800 million and about 350 employees–is still grappling with the exits of its Pillsbury [Adweek, Feb. 22] and Levi’s jeans accounts, which led to the layoffs, and the recent losses of Janus Funds’ $10-15 million media business in December. On top of that, The Associates Financial Services recently aborted the relationship it began with FCB in February on its $20 million account.
Thompson declined comment.
The agency did get some good news last week: It landed Blue Shield of California’s $20 million direct marketing business, following a review conducted by Select Resources International, Los Angeles.
The win will not be enough to make up for its losses, though, and the agency’s grasp on at least one client is not as firm as it might be. A key creative director on the Levi’s Dockers account resigned earlier this month. Levi’s has also dallied with Bartle Bogle Hegarty.