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5 Giants, boutiques square

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5 Giants, boutiques square off

In a competitive universe that's tougher than ever, here's one adversary the global networks didn't expect: the boutique agency. Small shops are enjoying an upswing not seen in recent years as larger network offices find themselves in David-and-Goliath rivalries. In 2005, StrawberryFrog landed a $150 million Heineken global branding assignment and went up against the likes of McCann Erickson, Euro RSCG and Lowe for Credit Suisse First Boston. Large marketers are going wherever they can get the best ideas, and boutiques, with lean business models, make for an attractive compensation alternative. Elsewhere, the much-trumpeted holding-company new-business approach met with mixed results: IPG, which helped pioneer the concept, was jettisoned from its Bank of America business, while WPP, the most vocal proponent of the approach, lost its trophy win, Samsung, after just 11 months. Omnicom, meanwhile, the player most reticent about the approach, was the lucky beneficiary of IPG's loss, winning BofA.