Surviving in Seattle: FCB to bail out BP&N — Borders, Perrin & Norrander’s Troubled Office Gets A New Lease on Life From Foote, Cone & Belding

SEATTLE–Borders, Perrin & Norrander got a new lease on… After 14 perilous months for BP&N/Seattle that resulted in approximately $15 million in account losses, observers expected the office to close. But with a nod from its new parent, agency executives have just signed a six-year lease on new space here.
Pete Hatt, chairman of the estimated $40-50-million Portland, Ore.-based BP&N, said that no consideration had ever been given to closing. Still, he conceded the Seattle office has been troubled. “All of that was made known to FCB management, they didn’t find fault and they will support the office,” Hatt said.
FCB has long been interested in the small but impressive list of blue-chip accounts based in Seattle, said Jack Balousek, president and coo of FCB/West. With its own limited success in pursuing business there, FCB felt the best strategy would be to acquire a local shop. “In BP&N, we looked at the underlying fundamentals, the quality of the creative work, irrespective of the business won or lost,” Balousek said. “These folks do terrific advertising. While they may have had a difficult time in Seattle the last couple of years, we think it’s temporary.”
Nevertheless, the two BP&N offics will consolidate in many areas, a move brought on by agency layoffs, which took the Seattle staff to 19 from 25 earlier this year. “Instead of duplicating things all the time, we’ll use talent where it lies,” Hatt said.
BP&N opened here in 1985 as clients began requesting a Seattle office and the shop began to see increased opportunities for expansion. Borders is only one of two Portland-based shops (Cole & Weber) is the other) that have ventured into the market. The office here thrived until last year, when it lost many of the accounts that helped establish the shop’s creative reputation, first the $5-million Avia business, a client that helped Borders gain national attention, and later, the $6.5-million Washington Lottery,$1-million Kenworth Truck and $3-5-million O’Brien International accounts. In the meantime, the shop has added Sun Gro, Bowen-Scarff Ford-Wolvo and the Seattle Aquarium, less visible accounts for which undisclosed billings are believed to be much smaller.
BP&N’s larger remaining accounts include U.S. Bank and King County Medical Blue Shield, estimated at under $10 million.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)