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NATIONAL AGENCY REPORT CARDS

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Ketchum
Financial C+
For second year in row, billings static at $596 million. Revenues did gain 10% to $75 million. Assignments from Heinz USA, Oracle and Pacific Bell helped counter the loss of the creative portion of Reckitt & Colman and the Acura dealer media business.
Creative C+
Pockets of creative verve showed up in agency"s network. Pittsburgh had flash of inspiration with centennial campaign for hometown Carnegie museum, while San Francisco did well with Bank of America. However, work for mainstay Acura was stuck in neutral.
Management C
Hiring of executive creative director Larry Kopald a plus for the Los Angeles office. Creation of Jerry & Ketchum in New York did little to bolster the agency"s standing on Madison Avenue. Los Angeles office lost lead agency status on Pacificare.
Regional Highlights
Rumors that Acura account is in trouble persist. The Los Angeles office, despite being considered the dark horse in the race, brought home the Oracle account. Status of New York outpost Jerry & Ketchum uncertain pending Omnicom acquisition of parent company. Chicago office sold to Bozell.
Teacher"s Comments
Ketchum management made a smart move in selling to Omnicom, which gained a network with strong marketing services, PR, and direct response. Jury is out on whether the holding company will merge Ketchum"s advertising business into its agencies, with car and bank conflicts a potential thorn.
C+
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Leo Burnett
Financial A
U.S. billings jumped 12% to $2.5 billion; revenues up 15% to $371 million. (Revenue gain of $48 million best among reported agency gains.) Domestic growth reflects the addition of Coca-Cola"s Fruitopia and media buying for Dairy Management, Rockport and others, plus the usual armful of new assignments from existing clients like Walt Disney, Kellogg, Nintendo and United Distillers.
Creative A-
Known for tugging on the heartstrings, Burnett is still at it in deft spots for McDonald"s, Hallmark and Allstate (a child playing the piano in the charred ruins of her house). Hitting the funny bone better than ever, too. The dancing, doltish Nacho Man for Old El Paso and the send-up of dubbed martial arts movies for Miller Lite are winners. Print work for Altoids mints is terrific. Marlboro Unlimited promotion a comprehensive effort for brand leader in verboten category.
Management A
Global billings topped $5 billion for the first time in 1995 and have tripled in the last 10 years. International offices outpace U.S. in billings and growth rate. Shop willingly resigned 7-Up and Tropicana to get onto Coke global roster, which is paying off with continued growth. President/chief executive officer Bill Lynch and chairman/chief creative officer Rick Fizdale have quieted the doubters.
Teacher"s Comments
When was the last time Burnett was fired by a client? Rivals wished it would have happened with Oldsmobile and Miller Lite; Burnett has recovered nicely. Quietly built up internal new media capabilities to complement promotions and direct units. Decision to take on media-only clients makes Burnett a more feared competitor than ever before.
A
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Lowe & Partners/SMS
Financial B-
Billings edged up 3% to $525 million. Slight bump in revenues, up 3% to $73 million. Agency lost large insurance client in Prudential and small brands from Coca-Cola; filled the gap by bringing home Sony Consumer Electronics, Flagstar, U.S. Virgin Islands and others.
Creative A-
Sprite campaign featuring Grant Hill among the best soda spots around, substantially better than scattered executions put forth for Diet Coke. Citibank campaign is alive and flourishing, Mercedes work is fresh and innovative. Top-level promotions under direction of Lee Garfinkel are paying off.
Management B+
Garfinkel/Sloves ticket clearly a winner. Co-chairmen were smart to create a second tier of management consisting of Bruce Kelley and Paul Hammersley. The team helped attract new business and stabilize the troubled Diet Coke account, which many thought was all but out the agency"s door. Additionally, this shop, consistently absent from the winners" circle in 1994, has improved its new-business average.
Teacher"s Comments
Much is working right here, and the agency is already on a new-business roll in 1996. It remains to be seen whether Jack Wheaton, recently lured to Lowe, will make the grade on Coke. And where is a campaign for Sony, an account landed a year ago? With Frank Lowe seemingly content to be hands-off with his U.S. outfit, a rejuvenated Marvin Sloves is still eager to be a player in the business.
B
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McCann-Erickson
Financial B+
Billings were up 7% to $1.9 billion. Revenues rose 7% to $285 million. New business wins include Marriott Hotels and AT&T Solutions in New York, a Coca-Cola Olympics assignment in Seattle and Sega and Supercuts in San Francisco.
Creative B
Seattle continues to be the shining star in the McCann family, though New York is catching up. Executive creative director Nina DiSesa, who joined the agency at the end of "94, is making her presence felt. First campaign for Marriott Hotels displays strong positioning for category. Clear message in work for Chemical Bank--apparently the clarity impressed merged banks" managers. Added points for continuing to feature Fabio in "I Can"t Believe It"s Not Butter" campaign.
Management A-
In his first full year as chief executive, John Dooner demonstrating his ability to lead. To prepare agency for next century, Dooner has promoted his own McCann lieutenants and introduced some atypical McCann solutions for creative and strategic issues. Formed alliance with Wieden & Kennedy to service Nike overseas and set up specialty units 14th Floor consulting group and creative Amster Yard. Management moves paved the way for a rush of early 1996 new business wins, including AT&T"s Lucent spinoff and global consolidation of Reckitt & Colman.
Regional Highlights
Brought in a new managing director for McCann-Erickson West to lift performance in the region. Los Angeles picked up McDonnell-Douglas and Ortega Mexican Foods. Detroit office strengthened its relationship with GM, adding GM Delphi Automotive Systems, and created McCann SAS/Retail to service GMC dealership groups.
Teacher"s Comments
Agency now defining itself by successes rather than lingering cloud over Coca-Cola relationship.
B+
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Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/ Euro RSCG
Financial B+
Billings up 14% to $809 million; revenues rose 12% to $72 million. New clients included HealthRider, Dunkin" Donuts and Philips Electronics, all $40 million-plus accounts. Won more assignments from MCI, International Paper, Volvo and Schering-Plough. For second year in a row, agency lost no accounts.
Creative B+
Agency still cranks out fast, hard-hitting campaigns for MCI, putting a polish rarely seen on a retail account. At same time, image work creates folksy familiarity for a techno-babble category. Ads for Volvo, New Balance and Nasdaq also do the hard sell with a soft glove.
Management A
Two top outside talents joined the ever-increasing partner pool: Tom Carroll and Joe O'Neill. Selective strategy for pitching new business proving successful. Flat management structure and minimal overheads allow agency to generate most revenues and billings per employee of any major agency. In other words, "partners" means just that.
Teacher"s Comments
Bob Schmetterer now on the North American and Worldwide boards of parent company Euro RSCG. As a result, agency will have more say in global decisions, but still gets to shape its own destiny. In new media arena, client MCI gives it a front-row seat for all new developments .
B+
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N.W. Ayer & Partners
Financial D
Billings fell by 5%, to $852 million. Struggling 127-year-old agency saw revenues drop 9% to $94 million. Longtime client DeBeers departed as did Pep Boys and MetraHealth. Agency attracted Avon and some new business from Procter & Gamble, but not much more.
Creative C-
Scattered performance, perhaps reflecting the shuffling the agency experienced in its creative ranks. AT&T yielded best performance, while work for General Motors Corp. and most others was uninspired.
Management D
Adcom continues with a revolving-door management. Martyn Straw came in, Steve Dworin went out, Mary Lou Quinlan went up, Pat Cunningham and Janet Kraus went south. Mark Fenske didn"t stay long, taking Straw with him. The merry-go-round has prevented the agency from developing a clear direction and dissuaded new clients from looking its way.
Regional Highlights
Agency"s Chicago office provides a bright spot to otherwise bleak operation. Office spent much of the year adding billings and new talent from General Motors, 3M, Zurich-American Insurance Group and Wolverine Worldwide. Detroit added billings; uneventful year for Los Angeles office.
Teacher"s Comments
Declining New York office requires emergency surgery and padlocks on the executive suite. With Fenske and Straw out, Quinlan needs some seasoned allies. Most important, Adcom, Ayer"s parent, must make up its mind about whether it wants to be in the big-agency business. Richard Humphreys and W.Y. Choi need to get on same page about Ayer"s future.
D
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Ogilvy & Mather
Financial B
Billings rose 18% to $2.1 billion; revenues surged 21% to $210 million. Gains from such wins as USSB, Swatch and Kodak and additional assignments from the consolidation of SmithKline Beecham. The agency resigned Maidenform. Profit margins improving after several subpar years.
Creative B+
There are gems in this year"s reel: Tagamet, some of the Jerry Seinfeld ads for American Express and several "Solutions for a Small Planet" executions for IBM. Print is often graphically engaging, but it"s not as strong conceptually.
Management A-
Experience pays off for this agency. Many of its executives are seasoned veterans, and when the agency hires newcomers, it chooses wisely. This year, Ogilvy added Tony Wright to handle Kodak and John Doyle to do creative for integrated marketing. Ogilvy knows how to reward its best and brightest; Shelly Lazarus" promotion to president and chief operating officer in North America also sets her up to succeed Charlotte Beers. And with Kelly O'Dea in London and Steve Hayden in New York, agency has met challenges of digesting global IBM account. Direct marketing, after AT&T wipeout, must be rebuilt.
Regional Highlights
Los Angeles had a rough year with its movie studio accounts. In October, the agency rehired Bill Stenton as executive creative director. In Chicago, Ogilvy treaded water. There were some management shifts on the Sears account and some new work for NutraSweet, but all was quiet on the new business front.
Teacher"s Comments
A solid and consistent performer whose global branding strategy is yielding an interesting side effect: Ogilvy is one of the few large agencies that manages to have a personality.
B+
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Saatchi & Saatchi
Financial C+
Billings increased 14% to $2.2 billion, estimated revenues up 14% to $220 million. Parent Cordiant, however, still reports weak margins in U.S. operations, which are led by Saatchi. Account wins included Bell Atlantic and Reynolds; Johnson & Johnson and General Mills added assignments. Lost Florida Department of Citrus, Hanes and Mexico Tourism. Qantas exited with British Airways to M&C Saatchi.
Creative B
Agency continues to do a superior job in the packaged-goods category: Witness the Frosted Cheerios launch and the latest Tide executions. This year"s reel also included a Toyota Paseo spot that broke through the clutter.
Management B-
London boardroom antics felt on Hudson Street, as North America supremo Bill Muirhead left and no clear leader in place for New York. Give Alan Bishop credit for stepping into the breach, quelling the Cliff Freeman mutiny and generally restoring order. But successor to Stan Becker as creative director must be found. John Fitzgerald, recruited at year-end from McCann Tokyo, has solid big-agency credentials.
Regional Highlights
The Torrance, Calif., office added the MGM/UA Home Video assignment to promote the studio"s James Bond collection. In hindsight, management dropped the ball in San Francisco, where Hewlett-Packard is now teetering. New York chipped in with morale-boosting Bell Atlantic win.
Teacher"s Comments
The recovery is under way. Still, Fitzgerald must learn the system, put out fires in San Francisco and assure smooth handoff of media services to Zenith. A more stable Cordiant balance sheet should help; now the operating units must perform.
B-
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TBWA Chiat/Day
Financial C+
Billings increased 10% to $1 billion, while revenues stood still at $131 million. In New York, the agency won America Online, but it had to give up former Chiat/Day account Fruitopia because of the merger. Lost Starter. The Venice office picked up Sony PlayStation, Unocal and Cobra Golf accounts and lost Quaker State Motor Oil.
Creative B
In aftermath of merger, Chiat heritage continued, with Lee Clow in West and Marty Cooke in New York taking the lead. Some strong TV spots for Jack-in-the-Box and Nissan Pathfinder. When the agency"s work falters, it"s usually not a problem with creativity but a failure to simplify a strong idea.
Management C-
Bill Tragos has always said this was an acquisition, not a merger. TBWA moved into Chiat"s "virtual" office on Maiden Lane, making for a manic year in New York. Adelaide Horton went to Wells; Tony DeGregorio exited; Ira Matathia was ticketed for Italy. It remains to be seen whether the agency was left with its best, or merely those most fit to withstand the politics of a takeover.
Regional Highlights
The virtual office marked its first year in Venice. It was the sole strong performer in 1995, with an unbroken string of account wins totaling more than $70 million in billings. St. Louis was quiet.
Teacher"s Comments
New York has redecorated. Now can it readjust? Chiat, New York, had trouble keeping clients on its roster; first year with TBWA had abominable record bringing new clients on board. The new agency will have to rise above that history. Can East Coast start to run as successfully as the West Coast, which remains its own show.
C+
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Temerlin McClain
Financial C
Billings up 4% to $525 million. Revenues flat at $59 million. New business wins include Quaker State and Paramount Parks. Reno Air account ($5 million) was only loss. Spending levels for other clients held even.
Creative B-
The product is hero in all the spots from this shop. New work for Subaru Outback, featuring Paul Hogan, proves the point. The result is work that is strategically sound and consistent but hardly captivating. Production values are always strong.
Management B
Dennis McClain assumed more responsibility for running the agency from Leiner Temerlin. No cracks forming in the company"s foundation. Agency rarely loses accounts and deserves credit for prevailing through changes at the client, as with Subaru. Luring well-connected Dallas businessman Scott Bennett to take over the public relations operation could turn that function into a more lucrative profit center. Direct response unit integrated into general agency teams.
Teacher"s Comments
Not the agency you want to share a client with. New business strategy based upon building deep relationships before an account goes into review and winning it without a pitch. The downside of this approach is growth comes slowly. Management has the goal of becoming a $1 billion agency with 25 accounts on its roster. In order to come close, it will have to pick up the pace in new business.
B-
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Wells Rich Greene BDDP
Financial C-
Billings flat at $850 million; revenues dipped 4% to $89 million. The agency"s $25 million Heineken win, $15 million Clairol assignment and $10 million Citgo win were offset by the loss of the $23 million Midas account.
Creative B-
New creative director Linda Kaplan-Thaler helped right out of the gate with Toys "R" Us win. Gets credit for keeping creative department focused amid management turmoil. Ads for Oil of Olay credible and likable. Work for Pringles and Tag Heuer show originality and spirit, as does Gain--a tough sell for the category and client.
Management F
A tragi-comedy of errors. Started with firings of president David Sklaver and cfo Tom Fagan over allegations of financial misdeeds. Then came ill-timed ouster of ceo Ken Olshan. To make matters worse, BDDP failed to keep the agency"s largest client, Procter & Gamble, in the loop when it appointed new ceo Frank Assumma and had to do some serious hand-holding to win back the client"s confidence. New president Paula Forman rose above the bumbling.
Regional Highlights
All eyes were focused on New York last year. When Chicago did take some of the heat in the form of the loss of Midas, it didn"t help the agency"s profile.
Teacher"s Comments
The decision to forgo new business for six months to focus on existing clients was a good one, but the aftershocks of the past year are still reverberating. Can Assumma do at Wells what he failed to do at Bates--build a team as well as a business? Most important, any stability could be undone by decisions made by French bankers and investors.
D+
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Young & Rubicam
Financial B-
Billings were up 12% to $2.4 billion; revenues rose 9% to $248 million. New business wins include Showtime, Key Corp. and 7-Up. Agency won Slim-Fast, only to resign it later in the year.
Creative B
Reel is showing significant improvement over past work. With worldwide creative director Ted Bell at the helm, the agency is better at selling upgraded work to cautious clients. Ads for Molson Ice and Xerox broke the traditional, dusty Y&R mold. MetLife spots featuring longtime mascot Snoopy were freshened with live-action/animation combo. Campaign for Kentucky Fried Chicken successfully repositioned the brand with the line "Everybody needs a little KFC."
Management A
With arrival of Ed Vick in 1994, and ascension of John McGarry under Peter Georgescu, lines of authority finally drawn taut. New York office restored to prominence, boosting new business, creative and morale last year. The agency further solidified its relationship with a number of clients, including Sears (additional assignments for Canyon River Blues and a Christmas promotion) and Colgate-Palmolive, which consolidated most of its worldwide billings at the agency in December.
Regional Highlights
San Francisco won a number of new accounts, including Novell, Sunmaid Raisins and Dennison"s Chili. Chicago reeled in two additional assignments from Miller for Southpaw and Big Sky brands.
Teacher"s Comments
After fixing New York, Vick now turns attention to global network with his promotion to worldwide post. Will his successor in New York (and a creative leader) be able to continue the momentum?
B
Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1996) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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