Ex-Wieden Group Is Adidas Finalist

Pair Sacked From Nike Account Surface As The Sole Contender
SAN FRANCISCO–A group of former Wieden & Kennedy executives has emerged as the lone finalist in the review for European creative assignments from Adidas, sources said. Two of those staffers, Chris Mendola and Alex Melvin, were abruptly dismissed last month for allegedly working on the pitch while at Wieden in Amsterdam [Adweek, Aug. 24].
Pitching with Mendola and Melvin is creative director Larry Frey, who resigned last month from Wieden’s Tokyo office to direct TV spots for radical.media in New York. He is not thought to be representing radical.media in the contest. The trio had worked together at Wieden’s Portland, Ore., headquarters, sources said.
London shops BMP DDB and Circus were eliminated. The ex-Wieden team was previously thought to have been cut, but sources denied this was the case. The assignment includes creative projects for apparel and shoes, sources said. North and South American duties are not involved.
Leagas Delaney is Adidas’ lead global agency and its only U.S. shop. “We are reviewing smaller agencies to act as sub-agencies for special projects in categories,” said Peter Csansadi, Adidas’ representative in Germany. Any new agencies “will work under Leagas Delaney, who takes the lead in brand concepts.” He added: “While we are looking at agencies, we may not pick one, we are not in an emergency [situation].” Adidas officials declined to disclose contenders’ names.
Adidas is also looking for additional agency resources in Japan, client officials said last week. Shops which have pitched the estimated $8-10 million account include incumbent Dentsu Young & Rubicam, Hakuhodo, Tokyu Agency, Tokyo Ad Party, AD-Media and Strategic Planners International, sources said. Leagas is not participating.
The client plans to choose three agencies for creative, media planning and media buying. Dentsu is expected to land media buying and Strategic Planners is expected to be awarded media planning duties, said sources.
If the former Wieden group wins a place on the Adidas roster, it may also be considered for a Japan creative assignment, due in part to Frey’s experience there, said sources. Adidas spent less than $500,000 on TV in Japan last year; Nike spent about $25 million. Adidas’ ad mix there has included work from Leagas and DY&R.
Leagas in London continues to handle advertising for other Asian countries.
“When Leagas began working for us in 1993 they did about five commercials a year; now they create more than 100,” said Csansadi. He noted that while Adidas sales have grown fourfold in that time, “Leagas has been able to keep up the quality but with the sheer volume, some product marketing has had to be abandoned or delayed.”
Neil Simpson, Adidas’ global ad director, initiated the London review after joining the company from Coca-Cola, one of Wieden’s global clients. He could not be reached.
Dave Luhr, Wieden’s director of account services, would not comment about possible legal ramifications or the noncompete agreements of his agency’s former employees.
Separately, Wieden & Kennedy has named John Russell, global account director on the Microsoft account in Portland, as managing director in Amsterdam. He worked on Nike for eight years, ending in 1996. Luhr said Russell’s appointment “confirms our commitment to providing the highest level of service to our accounts in Europe.” Russell replaces William “Buz” Sawyer, who moved to Lowe & Partners/SMS in San Francisco.
–with David Kilburn and Angela Dawson