This may be the most public course correction in modern agency branding: Draftfcb, formed by the combination of two Interpublic shops in 2006, is unveiling its new identity as FCB (Foote, Cone & Belding). It’s an unexpected reversal from when direct marketer Draft effectively took over FCB in a shift touted as a new behavioral-driven model supplanting the influence of one of the industry’s storied ad agencies.
The change has been rumored since the September arrival of Draftfcb’s new global CEO Carter Murray, who said that after eight years the merged entity, with its single P&L, needs one brand positioning. “We had two very iconic names with different heritages, different pasts,” said Murray. “It didn’t fully reflect our integrated nature.”
Additionally, Murray said the agency has fewer global clients than its peers: “We are intrinsically local, and this celebrates local creativity and local spirit.”
Case in point: New York now becomes FCB Garfinkel, reflecting the January arrival of creative executive Lee Garfinkel as CEO. “When I say I’m putting creativity into the center of this company, I’m not messing around,” New York-based Murray added.
Which leads back to FCB’s 140 year-plus pedigree—a shop once run by Albert Lasker, known as “The Father of Modern Advertising”—that includes branding oranges as Sunkist; asking “Does she or doesn’t she?” for Clairol; and producing groundbreaking Levi’s 501 Blues work. Post-merger, most Foote Cone executives were excluded in top management ranks; “Draft” fronted the logo and “fcb” followed in lowercase type.
“The reason we put my name on the door was we wanted to make it clear this was not direct marketing being subsumed by an agency,” recalled executive chairman Howard Draft. “When I was more active in the agency, it made sense. My brand connotes more direct, digital, retail, but now we’re fully integrated.”
That was the original intent. But in the last few rocky years as Draftfcb lost big accounts like S.C. Johnson, Kraft and MillerCoors, the perception of the agency was that it had swung too far in the direction of Draft’s CRM practice and lost FCB’s creative understanding of consumers and narrative advertising.
The new identity, designed by FCB International CCO Luis Silva Dias, incorporates local elements that visually follow a diagonal cut in FCB’s “B.” Those details may include an operating city or the name of an acquired company because of its local equity or a specific expertise, like FCB Health. In New York, where the agency is predominately a health practice, that distinction differentiates those operations from the agency bearing Garfinkel’s name. While he is the first to become part of an office rebranding, other creative execs may follow. (Those names disappear when the individual exits.)
The logo’s colors represent the palette of flags in FCB’s 90 operating countries and the typeface is Code Pro Light, which Murray describes as a bar code font reflecting Draft’s digital heritage.