R/GA and Nike Women’s Relationship is Changing

By Matt Van Hoven 

It’s impossible to say exactly what’s happening with Nike Women and R/GA, but word on the street is that the agency and shoemaker’s relationship as it pertains to women is probably going to change.

The details are vague, but sources who know tell us that Nike Women is in a state of flux. Some portion of the business, which is just one part of R/GA’s hold on Nike (they’ve been Digital AOR, US, since 2001 &#151 a role that has expanded over seas), will be handed to AKQA, which according to one source nabbed the women’s account. Keep in mind, after the Run business Women is apparently the second largest piece.

Another R/GA account that’s not doing so well: Johnson & Johnson. No word on what’s happening inside the agency, other than rumors of layoffs, which an R/GA representative declined to comment on.

We’re hearing that 5-8 people were laid off last week and another few dozen more may be on the way out. Nike employs about 120-150 folks in New York, roughly 25 of whom were on the Women business. There are fewer than 80 in London and San Francisco combined, according to a source familiar with the business. This could also be more of the reshuffling, but conversations we’ve been a part of indicate the former. Let us know if we’re missing something.

It’s important to understand what Nike means to an ad agency. They’re a whale that doesn’t pay out, from what we’re told. Because the brand is so recognizable, most any agency would salivate at the mere thought of working for them. Nike knows this, and the result is apparently lower billings. Nike recently announced it is reorganizing, which for R/GA means small billings get smaller. So even if the brand has moved some of its business, it may not have taken much money with it.

Conversely AKQA is in a good spot to take on big brand name work, though a company representative did not immediately respond.

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