Pair at Amsterdam Office Was Allegedly Working on Pitch for Adidas
LOS ANGELES–Two senior executives at Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam were fired last week after it was allegedly discovered that they were working on a new business pitch for its flagship client’s chief rival, Adidas A.G., sources said.
Chris Mendola, the Amsterdam office’s account director on Nike, and Alex Melvin, a planning director, were abruptly dismissed by the agency last week, according to sources.
Liz Hartge, a representative of the Portland, Ore.-based agency, confirmed the two executives holding those titles had been fired, but refused to name the parties. “They no longer work at Wieden & Kennedy,” she said, declining to comment further.
Agency president Dan Wieden, reached in Amsterdam last week, would not confirm or deny the dismissals, nor any possible legal ramifications, saying only: “Given the circumstances, I can’t comment.”
Sources said that Dan Wieden became aware of the situation about two weeks ago, when creative staffers in the Amsterdam office alerted him they were approached by Mendola and Melvin to help with the Adidas pitch.
A Nike representative said the company was aware of the dismissals and allegations, but viewed “the situation” as an internal agency matter, and therefore declined further comment. Adidas executives did not return calls.
The dismissed staffers were allegedly involved in a pitch for Adidas business that began in June. The athletic shoe and apparel company is searching for shops to handle creative assignments in Europe and to work with lead agency Leagas Delaney in London.
It was unclear whether the Wieden staffers had approached Adidas, or vice versa, or if they were working on the assignment unbeknownst to the company.
Adidas global advertising director Neil Simpson, who recently joined Adidas’ Amsterdam office from Coca-Cola, is leading the review.
The search is expected to conclude later this summer, sources said.
Sources said top Adidas executives are concerned their review materials may have been accessible to other Wieden Amsterdam staffers who work on the Nike business.
Wieden Amsterdam employs about 120 people and works primarily for Nike, but also for Microsoft and Coke. Earlier this summer, the agency created a series of acclaimed TV spots for Nike International, which aired during the World Cup, featuring the Nike-sponsored Brazilian soccer team and its star player, Ronaldo.–with Joan Voight and Jane Irene Kelly
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