Sources said that while no deal has been signed, FCB officials have been in 'deep discussions' with executives of the Northwest agency to acquire it outright.
Although FCB has made known its interest in setting up a second network to expand its client base, possibly through the agency's Publicis unit based in N.Y. (ADWEEK, June 21), Borders apparently isn't a part of that plan, and may only be a regional freestanding acquisition with no plans to consolidate with any other FCB agency.
Said Borders chairman Pete Hatt, 'We've had some discussions with them, they've been off and on for some time, but nothing is decided and no deal has been reached.' An FCB spokesman acknowledged the talks but said no deal had been struck.
Details of the negotiations are sketchy, but if acquired, the Borders most likely would report to Jack Balousek, president of both the parent company and its FCB/West division. Both Balousek and FCB executive vp/operations North America Jack Boland are said to be involved in the negotiations.
In looking to expand its creative presence in the Northwest, FCB would be following a strategy similar to those other major agency networks have pursued. Omnicom, for example, tapped into the West Coast creative base last year when it acquired Goodby, Berlin, & Silverstein, and earlier this year looked to the East Coast with Merkley Newman Harty in New York, two operations which remain freestanding.
Borders went into a downhill slide last fall. In September, its Portland office lost the $5 million Avia athletic footwear account that had been its flagship. In December, its Seattle office lost the $6.5 million Washington State Lottery. In April '93, the Seattle office lost $3.5 million O'Brien International. The losses have been offset by some much smaller wins in both offices.
The agency is currently competing against FCB and others in the Celestial Seasonings review and also is a contender in the Heinz pitch.
FCB has cleared all possible conflict hurdles with its current clients, agency insiders said, including Levi Strauss & Co., handled out of FCB's San Francisco office. Borders has received some acclaim for its creative for Columbia Sportswear; its most recent ad for the client, appearing in Rolling Stone, touts its blue jeans.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)