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DDB Chicago Evolves: Office Will Undergo Changes To Strengthen Agency Brand By Beth Heitzma

CHICAGO – By year end, DDB Needham Worldwide’s office here likely will have a different profile, but it won’t be seeing t

DDB Needham Chicago may gain a new retail service cluster, expanded sales promotion and direct marketing capabilities and increased profit-generating responsibilities for each of the client-driven teams currently in place. But chairman/ceo Keith Reinhard last week said agency spinoffs – similar to the Berlin, Wright & Cameron sub-agency created last month from DDB Needham/N.Y. – are not part of the plan in this market.
‘Separate agency units, like (Andy) Berlin’s operation with Volkswagen, are the exception not the rule,’ Reinhard said last week. ‘We intend to strengthen the DDB Needham brand as opposed to diluting it.’
Reinhard said he’s encouraged each Needham office to approach the future in its own way. The Dallas Group, which has evolved into an number of separate, but related, entities is not a blueprint for every office, he said.
In Dallas, two separate agencies, Tracy-Locke/DDB Needham and recently-acquired Puskar Gibbon Chapin, coexist with Focus GTE, Spot Plus and DDB Needham Marketing Communications Group.
In Chicago, the management teams is in the midst of planning for the next evolution in its march to fulfill Reinhard’s vision of flexible, client-driven service clusters, said Alan Pilkington, exec vp/managing director.
‘Keith’s vision is clear,’ Pilkington said. ‘How to implement it within the context of Chicago clients is what we continue to work on. It’s constantly evolving.’
High on the list of priorities is a formalized unit specializing in retail advertising/marketing. The agency is looking at possible acquisitions and Pilkington said he expects a deal will be completed by year end.
A unit designed to pay special attention to the retail environment makes sense for current clients such as McDonald’s Corp., as well as the numerous consumer packaged goods clients who compete in the retail marketplace.
The sales promotion and direct response units, lead by Dennis O’Connell, are expected to grow over the next several months. Pilkington said the units are hiring, expanding their capabilities and adding business and he expects the growth to continue.
Eight months have passed since the office here was restructured into client service teams and now the Chicago management team is looking at increasing the amount of profit-generating responsibilities assigned to each client team.
‘We’re in the midst of working this out, but the way the ideal is structured it will never be finished . . . we’ll keep evolving,’ Pilkington said.
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