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Networking: FCB Has Eye on Two Candidates By Jim Kir

Foote, Cone & Belding Communications’ drive to add a second, separate network still is in full gear, but one agency looking to be considered – Chiat/Day – appar

Instead, FCB chairman-ceo Bruce Mason is said to be in discussions with at least two agencies that could fit into the agency system without the problem of a possible client conflict with FCB’s Mazda business, according to sources, and not necessarily with a singular New York presence, where its Publicis office is basing its U.S. operations.
FCB officials wouldn’t comment on any acquisition talks, but didn’t rule out that it would seek a second network. ‘We continue to examine a variety of options . . . to accelerate our growth,’ an agency spokesperson said.
Rumors circulated last week that Omnicom’s interest in the possibility of buying Chiat/Day and merging it with TBWA had cooled. As a result, sources indicate, Chiat/Day then tried to rekindle talks with FCB, but those inquiries fell on deaf ears.
FCB apparently wants to set up a second network with an agency that wouldn’t give the agency as many headaches as would a union with Nissan agency Chiat/Day. That conflict appears to have presented an insurmountable barrier.
‘There are no talks whatsoever anymore with Chiat,’ said a source. ‘The whole deal would be too cumbersome.’ An FCB spokesperson said that the agency is not talking to Chiat/Day at this time.
But with publicly-held FCB having made its expansion desires clear to shareholders and Wall Street, Mason apparently wants a deal for a second network done quickly.
‘Bruce (Mason) just doesn’t want to sit down and let this thing go by,’ said one source close to the situation. ‘He wants to take advantage of adding a second network as soon as possible.’
With FCB’s financial picture stable, now would be the time for FCB to add another network.
‘They want to be a major world player, it’s as simple as that,’ said Jim Dougherty, an analyst with Dean Witter in New York. ‘This would give them the capacity to take on conflicting businesses, like many of the big agency networks have done. They’re in good shape financially, so I’d say this is a good time to do it.’
Speculation that FCB and Chiat were talking surfaced after FCB bought Chiat’s Mojo operation in Australia late last year.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)