Adidas in hunt for global ad network

LONDON - Adidas has begun talking to agency neworks about the future of its $100 million-plus international advertising arrangements.

The bulk of the sports giant's creative assignments are currently handled by Leagas Delaney and Amsterdam's 180. A number of other agencies are used to give the advertising a local touch, including Burrell in the US, SCPF in Spain, Harrison McCann in Japan and Clemenger BBDO in Australia.

Leagas Delaney and 180 will be retained on the business but they have been asked by Adidas to offer recommendations on how they would work with an international network and which network they propose. The move comes as Adidas seeks a more streamlined approach to give greater speed and coherence to its creative arrangements.

Neil Simpson, the head of global brand concepts and advertising at Adidas, said: "This is about bringing greater efficiency to our advertising arrangements. It is not a review driven by creative quality issues, nor is it driven by cost-saving, though having a network will be more cost efficient."

There is no pitchlist at this stage but a number of networks have been approached about the business, Simpson confirmed. "My intention is to retain Leagas and 180 but we need more international cohesion," he explained. "A network would help us to adapt and implement work and offer local insight."

A key market in which Adidas is under-represented in agency coverage is the US, where it used to work with Leagas Delaney's San Francisco operation. "If there was a strong US office in the new network, then I could see it playing a role in creative development of US work," Simpson explained.

But he quashed speculation that the move would lead to Leagas Delaney or 180 losing their key client. "Both are on the list, they are staying with us," he said.

180 joined the Adidas roster three years ago when Simpson began a trawl for an additional creative shop to work alongside Leagas Delaney because the account had grown so rapidly.

Tim Delaney, Leagas Delaney's chief executive, who has been at the centre of Adidas's advertising strategy for eight years, remains sanguine. "Adidas is looking at something to make it more coherent, which is sensible," he said.

Delaney rubbished speculation that Leagas Delaney has been trawling the market for a buyer with Adidas' requirement for a network in mind and following the collapse of its deal with the Canadian marketing services group Envoy. "The two things are not linked," he said.

180 declined to comment. The company's media arrangements are not affected.

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