Heineken Eyes 8 As Wells Elects To Defend Chase

As eight contenders emerged for the $30 million ad account of Heineken USA, Wells BDDP decided last week to defend its portion of the $40 million Chase Manhattan account.
Steve Davis, vice president of marketing at Heineken, confirmed eight shops will compete for the account but would not identify them. Sources, however, named Bates Worldwide, McCann-Erickson, Lowe & Partners/SMS, J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Saatchi & Saatchi, all in New York. The shops declined comment.
Wells here was fired by Heineken in anticipation of a conflict with Omnicom’s Anheuser-Busch business. Omnicom’s $235 million acquisition of Wells parent GGT Group is expected to close by mid-March.
Sources said Wells will join fellow incumbent McCann-Erickson here in the Chase review, which will include the corporate and wholesale banking accounts currently at Wells and the retail portion handled by McCann. Three other New York shops in contact with Frederick Hill, Chase’s executive vice president, corporate marketing and communications, are Foote, Cone & Belding; Berlin, Cameron & Partners; and M&C Saatchi, sources said.
According to sources, Hill will send out questionnaires to 20-25 agencies and may retain a search consultant. The agencies declined comment; Hill did not return calls.
As Wells struggles to hang on to Chase, a GGT representative on Friday denied reports that Wells would be shuttered. Client defections have put the future of the agency in jeopardy.
There has also been speculation that Wells will settle with ex-chief executive Frank Assumma, who is seeking $14.6 million in damages from the agency relating to his dismissal, to smooth the Omnicom-GGT deal’s closing. Both parties declined comment.
Ironically, Assumma’s counsel, Steve Atkins, is a retired member of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, the New York law firm representing GGT, sources said. –with staff reports