Contract Would Shield Agency's Business; Wieden Loses Suit Vs. 180
SAN FRANCISCO--Adidas and its lead agency, Leagas Delaney, last week were finalizing an unusual contract that would prevent the client from staging "shootouts" for any of Leagas' assignments over the next two years, sources said.
The contract would not preclude new tasks from going up for grabs, nor would it lock in spending on Leagas' business, although sources said the company will expand its $200-250 million global ad budget. It would, however, keep Adidas from approaching other shops for ideas on the bulk of its advertising, sources said.
The pact would also prevent other agencies from trespassing on Leagas' turf, as happened with Amsterdam shop 180, which was founded by four former Wieden & Kennedy executives. Since June, the company has also signed up Saatchi & Saatchi in New Zealand, AD-media in Japan and Clemenger in Australia for local projects.
Meanwhile, 180 is producing a global image campaign due to break in the first quarter of 1999. Three TV spots will focus on the overall values and heritage of the Adidas brand, rather than tout a specific athlete or sport as Leagas' ads do, sources said.
London-based Leagas has met with 180, but is not directly involved in the work, said sources. It is unclear if those ads will run in the U.S., where Leagas in San Francisco is the sole agency. "This is all about working cooperatively on a common aim that benefits a shared client. We went into this with a tremendous respect for Leagas," said 180 co-founder Alex Melvin. Leagas executives declined comment.
It is the company's first broad image effort in at least five years. An Adidas representative declined to offer details of the campaign, saying only that the company likes to "experiment" and wants to preserve the "element of surprise." Spending is estimated at more than $20 million.
Separately, a Dutch court ruled last week that Melvin and his 180 colleague Chris Mendola did not breach a contract with Wieden in Amsterdam. The pair were awarded undisclosed financial damages. The 180 principals and Wieden officials declined comment.
Mendola and Melvin were dismissed from their former agency last August for allegedly planning a pitch for Adidas while working on rival Nike for Wieden. The duo, with former Wieden creative director Larry Frey, was added to the Adidas roster in September [Adweek, Oct. 5]. A fourth partner, Guy Hayward, has also joined 180. He was at Wieden until two years ago and more recently worked for the Interpublic Group of Cos.' Octagon unit, a collection of sports marketing companies. --with Andrew McMains