Keye, who has created several legendary campaigns including 'This is your brain on drugs,' would say only of the separation, 'Roger and I had hoped we might jointly accomplish some things that I don't think either one of us feels we've accomplished. It really is a no-fault separation.'
But sources close to the agency said the relationship had been fraught with strife for some time.
At its inception, the idea was to combine two advertising heavyweights - Keye's legendary copywriting ability and his contacts in the Southern California marketplace with Livingston's Seattle success formula. But while most onlookers waited for the bright flash of light they anticipated from the combination, L+K remained in the shadows.
Keye brought with him from Keye/Donna/Pearlstein the heralded anti-smoking and the California State Tourism accounts, but almost from the beginning, the state pulled the funding for the anti-smoking campaign and tourism lay dormant. Unable to sink their teeth into any meaty projects, a number of key staffers exited early on, and L+K found itself without a portfolio on which to build.
'We were very much the second coming of Paul Keye,' said Livingston, who is president. 'You have to make your own mark with what you're doing today.'
Livingston hopes to begin doing that now that the anti-smoking campaign is up and running again. Newer clients, such as Claris Corp., have had virtually no involvement with Keye. Indeed, Alex Bennett, the Santa Clara company's advertising director, who said the split will have no effect on his relationship with the agency, added that during the initial meetings, Keye was 'represented by a life-size cutout.'
But the anti-smoking account is the agency's backbone, and the client 'was disappointed,' at Keye's exit, Livingston said. Maintaining the unusual arrangement that will allow Keye to continue to be involved with that business may be critical for the future.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)