CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/CAMPBELL-EWALD - Jeremy White investigates the return to Europe of the IPG shop Campbell-Ewald

After nearly 20 years, Interpublic's Campbell-Ewald is making a

return to the European market - but only just. You feel that the agency

would like to draw as little attention to the move as possible.



According to the Michigan-based shop, the move back into the European

market - backed by the sibling agency Foot Cone & Belding Worldwide and

beginning with a presence in Germany (and possibly the UK) - is simply a

drive to service existing accounts.



Mark Benner, the director of communications at Campbell-Ewald, said: "We

are trying to expand the work of our existing clients - not coming to

try and gain additional ones. We are expanding where our clients need to

go. We will do this in partnership with the IPG agencies."



Interestingly, Campbell-Ewald was the catalyst for Frank Lowe and Geoff

Howard-Spink's Lowe Howard-Spink agency being lured to Interpublic. A

complex deal in the early 80s saw Lowe sell a minority stake to the

Campbell-Ewald group, already part of Interpublic, and taking over the

London office of Wasey Campbell-Ewald. A coup, it made millionaires of

Lowe and Howard-Spink, fuelled the pair's global ambitions and brought

Interpublic much-needed creative credibility.



It is unclear whether last week's announcement will lead to

Campbell-Ewald re-establishing its own offices in Europe. It seems

unlikely if you believe Benner. "It's an expansion of our global

footprint in Europe," he adds. "We have a number of very large clients

that have had up to this point very modest global expansion. What we

have really done is use the offices of local IPG companies to develop

creative executions against global strategies. We are expanding that in

two locations. But it's not in any way interfering with existing client

relationships."



Benner will not directly refute the idea of the agency setting up its

own offices in Europe. "We will have an arrangement with those offices

that satisfies the need of our client," he says.



It sounds very much as if FCB agencies such as Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB

will have to make space for a Campbell-Ewald team.



A Campbell-Ewald press release seems to corroborate this further:

"Campbell-Ewald will continue to utilise the existing Interpublic Group

of Companies infrastructure, as appropriate. We are working out the

final details of the expanded international footprint that we will

announce soon."



The main client Campbell-Ewald is hoping to service internationally is

General Motors. It handles Chevrolet in the US and it may be gearing up

for GM's global expansion plans for the brand.



However, another bolder theory is that Campbell-Ewald is being merged

into FCB. The network could use some GM work after True North lost its

$2.4 billion Daimler-Chrysler account to BBDO last year. It could

be a sneaky way of getting back on the roster.



Benner strongly denies that this is the case, however. "No. We'll remain

a separate agency." And he goes on to say the move will not affect Banks

Hoggins' status.



A full announcement is expected in three weeks, when Campbell-Ewald will

reveal its plans. When Campaign called John Banks, chairman and chief

executive of Banks Hoggins, to get clarification, he was waiting to hear

the final word himself - but he didn't seem too worried.



Could it be that Campbell-Ewald's UK presence may fail to materialise

after all?



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