Northwest Airlines Prepares To Bring Aboard the Lane Agency

MINNEAPOLIS – Northwest Airlines is expected to announce another addition to its advertising partnership this week, the Lane Agency of New York, a recently-formed consulting company headed by former J. Walter Thompson creative executive Bill Lane.
Sources said a press release prepared early last Wednesday announced that Fallon McElligott/Minneapolis and the Lane Agency would jointly handle Northwest’s trans-Pacific assignment.
The announcement was then altered, sources said, because of a dispute over how to present Lane’s role on the account.
Sources close to Fallon said that the agency was unhappy with Lane receiving joint billing and the impression the announcement created. At the last minute, the release was modified to list Fallon as the definitive agency on the trans-Pacific business. Yet sources said Lane’s presence on the account is practically completed.
‘Bill Lane is a big pill to swallow,’ said one source close to the situation.
‘He’s being forced down Fallon’s throat under the guise of this advertising partnership where all of the agencies are supposed to play nicely together, and it’s not going to happen without a fight.’
Lane’s champion is Chris Clouser, Northwest’s senior vp/corporate communications and advertising.
Lane and Clouser have worked together as agency and client for many years, including when Clouser held a marketing post at Bell Atlantic.
The trans-Pacific assignment, which differs from the international assignment awarded to Foote, Cone & Belding last week, involves advertising international flights domestically and was technically awarded to Fallon in January 1993, when Northwest moved the bulk of its account from JWT/N.Y. Sources said the trans-Pacific assignment is the only portion of the domestic account slated for an image campaign this year, and thus is where Lane wants to spend his time.
Clouser created the advertising partnership concept not long after he joined Northwest Air in 1991. The partners have changed somewhat in the past two years.
The group now includes Sietsema/K&H, Minneapolis, which handles air cargo and travel trade advertising and Media First International/N.Y. which handles media planning and buying, in addition to Fallon and FCB.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)