New Name, Airline for Tatham

There’s much more than a name change at Euro RSCG McConnaughy Tatham, insists CEO Gary Epstein.

“It can’t be just about the name change,” said Epstein, who oversaw a daylong seminar at the Chicago agency last week to herald the addition of the McConnaughy name to the brand. “There’s a vision beyond that and a different way of thinking.”

Tatham is trying to reinvent itself following the acquisition last October of McConnaughy Stein Schmidt Brown, a creatively driven crosstown shop that was never known for strong account service.

Tatham was just the opposite, a 55-year-old shop that for most of its history was a stolid, packaged-goods entity bulwarked by former longtime client Procter & Gamble.

The acquisition has resulted in a bit of a culture clash. The shop has struggled to brand itself for potential new clients, leading to the need to form a new ethos.

Epstein, who runs the shop with former MSSB executives Tom McConnaughy and Jim Schmidt, said the agency will focus on “holistic creativity.”

Staff was hammered with the new vision last week during a day that included a talk from Tom Kelley, author of The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity From IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm.

The agency, under its fresh moniker, wants to tap the “core equities” of the combined agencies, Epstein said. The shop has changed everything from its training methods and operational systems to the way it puts together strategic briefs, he said.

“I challenged people to think differently,” he said. “It’s a beginning for us.”

Epstein capped the meeting by telling his staff that Air France’s $10 million U.S. account has been shifted to the agency, which will open a New York field office to service it. Susan Mena will run the business out of that office.

The Air France business had been at Jordan McGrath Case & Partners Euro RSCG in New York; it was recently shifted to the Arnold arm of parent Havas Advertising. Euro RSCG, which handles Air France globally out of its Paris headquarters, wanted to keep the client in the network. Epstein won it for his shop.