Competing Ad Agencies Find Common Ground

Temerlin McClain will likely pursue additional partnerships with DDB Worldwide similar to the one with client Nortel Networks that was unveiled last week, a top agency executive said.

Dennis McClain, Temerlin’s CEO and executive creative director, said of DDB, “We’re handling [Nortel] as a team. We’re very pleased to have this relationship and may move into similar relationships with them in the future.”

Last week, Temerlin and DDB struck an account-service arrangement, which put a major portion of Nortel’s global advertising into the hands of the New York-based Omnicom network. Temerlin, a large stand-alone shop in Irving, Texas, under the True North banner, will continue to direct global advertising efforts for the Canadian telecommunications company. But DDB will execute media placement and local creative assignments.

“As DDB personnel become more aware we may ask their creative people to contribute ideas [to the] global assignments for Nortel as well,” McClain said. “This is going to be a service contract that is very open.”

The DDB partnership may also have forestalled the loss of the estimated $40 million Nortel account. Late last year, the client was said to have initiated a consultant search as a precursor to a review. Sources said Nortel was pleased with Temerlin’s creative but needed a global agency to accommodate its business expansion overseas.

The alignment with DDB fueled speculation that Temerlin could become part of Omnicom in the likely event its parent company, TN, is sold. Temerlin already shares another client, Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines, with DDB.

Said McClain, “We are very comfortable and happy in our relationship with True North, and that is not an issue that is under consideration at this point. We have a very positive relationship with DDB but becoming part of Omnicom is not in the cards for us.” Still, as one executive noted, “Anything can happen” once TN has a new owner.