The Martin Agency's parent, SMS, here was surprised last week when its top creative team, Dean Stefanides and Larry Hampel, jumped ship to start their own New York agency with the backing of Boston agency Houston Effler & Partners. The Scali creatives were instrumental in winning the Mercedes-Benz account, and had produced the two national campaigus that have broken so far for the German car maker. SMS, which lost another top creative, Bernie Rosner, earlier this year, and has for months been the subject of acquisition talks between WPP Group PLC and Inter-public, has been raising the profile of the two men with key SMS clients in recent months.
To fill the void, at least with the $110 million Mercedes-Benz client, sources said last week that Westbrook, who played an important role in the joint win by SMS and The Martin Agency last year, will take the lead on all Metcedes creative, and will likely be spending much of his time in New York. The Martin Agency is located in Richmond, Va.
Westbrook did not return a phone call. But SMS/N.Y. managing director Scott Messinger played down the significance of the Hampel-Stefanides departures, and denied that Westbrook would take the reins for both the regional ads, which Martin already does, and national ads. "It's difficult to imagine a more prominent role for Bill Westbrook, because he already is a very prominent member of team that works for Mercedes, and he was instrumental in winning the account last year," he said.
If the Lowe Group acquisition falls through, though, agency sources said Westbrook would be the top choice to become creative director at SMS. Meanwhile, Westbrook, said one source close to Pat Fallon, was the top candidate to succeed Pat Burnham as creative director at Fallon McElligott, The Martin Agency's sister shop under the SMS umbrella. But with SMS's creative team leaving, there is "no chance," said one SMS source, that Fallon would be able to recruit Westbrook.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)