Walgreens Set for Shift to DDB Unit

CHICAGO The creative portion of Walgreen Co.’s $60 million broadcast account, in flux since the meltdown of Euro RSCG Tatham Partners earlier this year, will shift to the newly minted Chicago office of Omnicom Group’s Downtown Partners, an offshoot of DDB, the client has confirmed.

Jim Schmidt, who oversaw the work as chief creative officer at Havas’ Tatham before quitting the shop in January, is expected to join Downtown Partners as lead creative, said Craig Sinclair, senior vice president of advertising at Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreen’s.

The fate of the drugstore chain’s account has been in question since Tatham’s advertising practice was all but shuttered earlier this spring amid account losses, layoffs and executive defections. The Havas-owned shop is trying to rebuild as Euro RSCG Chicago.

Sinclair said he “identified a couple of candidates” to replace Tatham during a two-month search. In talks with DDB, he said he didn’t want to be “lost in the shuffle” among larger accounts. That led to the formation of a new Downtown Partners under Ray Gillette, who was replaced as president at DDB by former Foote, Cone & Belding Chicago CEO Dana Anderson in April.

Downtown Partners also has an office in Toronto. Sinclair said he expects the Chicago office to have three to four senior executives in place in four to six weeks to run the Walgreen’s business. He also said the shop will continue the agency’s “Perfect” campaign, which contrasts the paradise of a fictional town called Perfect with the problems of real life.

The Walgreens business moved to Tatham when the shop bought independent McConnaughy Stein Schmidt Brown in 2000. Media will continue to be handled by Publicis Groupe’s Starcom, Sinclair said. Print is handled in-house.