John Owen reports on the first Euro agency network to be created in Germany
Last week, Germany’s hottest shop, Springer and Jacoby, began building
the first international agency network to be run out of Germany.
If negotiations go according to plan, S&J will shortly have a
significant minority stake in the nine-country European network of the
It will have the option of raising this to a majority holding at some
point in the future.
The network will be renamed to incorporate Wilkens (Ayer’s German agency
name) and be run from the German arm’s offices in Hamburg and Frankfurt.
The co-founder of S&J, Reinhard Springer, argues that, historically,
German companies have not expanded internationally as quickly as their
competitors. When foreign agencies win bigger clients they often drop
German business. ‘What German clients need is a good, reliable partner
whom they can influence,’ Springer declares. ‘Wilkens will depend on
these clients in a way that networks such as WPP and Omnicom do not.’
Leo Burnett is being used as a model for developing the network, which
includes the UK-based Leagas Shafron Davis.
Burnetts concentrates on a small core of blue-chip, international
businesses and works with them in depth across a number of European
Wilkens, to be headed by the current S&J manager, Holger Uhlmann, will
try to combine the creativity of Bartle Bogle Hegarty with the
organisational skills of McCann-Erickson, Springer says. He claims that
S&J’s management techniques are just as creative. ‘There are around 50
elements in our culture and construction, which have created a cocktail
that, until today, has been successful,’ Springer says. ‘Now all we have
to do is transfer these elements to Wilkens.’
S&J will remain entirely separate from the revamped network. While S&J
will continue to offer a Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury-style ‘wilder
route’ for more adventurous clients, the Wilkens network will provide a
different approach for what Springer describes as ‘steady, calm’
The question is, who will its clients be? Wilkens already has
Beiersdorf, which markets the Nivea skincare line, and a part of the
Volkswagen business. It is now targeting Holsten, Lufthansa and Bayer,
which is rethinking its advertising in Germany.
‘If we get between five and ten clients across Europe, with a variety of
brands, that will be enough,’ Springer says.