PERSPECTIVE: Chicago monoliths finally answer their global wake-up call

While Motive was cleaning up - deservedly - at last night’s Campaign Media Awards for its outstanding Stella Artois work, the good people at Leo Burnett here in Chicago have been mulling the agency’s future. The newly formed BDM is getting down to the nitty-gritty of which brands, agency and media to keep separate and which to merge around the globe.

While Motive was cleaning up - deservedly - at last night’s

Campaign Media Awards for its outstanding Stella Artois work, the good

people at Leo Burnett here in Chicago have been mulling the agency’s

future. The newly formed BDM is getting down to the nitty-gritty of

which brands, agency and media to keep separate and which to merge

around the globe.



While no firm decisions have been made, it seems certain there will not

be three media brands (the others being MediaVest and Starcom) in

London.



Both Burnett and the other Windy City giant, FCB, are digesting their

recent bold moves. Although here neither of the monolithic agencies will

be physically merged with their new partners (MacManus and Bozell), the

process does herald Chicago belatedly waking up to smell the trees of

the world advertising business.



You have to be here to appreciate the full power of the agencies;

standing in front of the respective skyscrapers and craning your neck

upwards.



FCB is one of the few US agencies to have a significant presence in New

York, Chicago and the West Coast. Its power within this market is

immense and the Bozell merger, bringing with it as it does the Chrysler

business, finally restores to it some international credibility after

the Publicis debacle.



It has a long way to go before Europe is back on track. Further

acquisitions seem inevitable, not least in London. Of course, the

overall gameplan may change if Omnicom moves for FCB’s holding company,

True North.



Roger Haupt, the self-deprecating, Brit-born incoming boss of the new

BDM holding company, has different agendas. He made his bold gambit with

astonishing speed and secrecy. The result is that there remain many ’T’s

to cross and ’I’s to dot. Haupt is clearly imbued with the business

integrity which marks out Leo Burnett at its best, but this alone is not

enough for BDM to compete with the big three.



Thankfully, he appears totally free of the usual adman’s obsession with

being the biggest. He knows global clients demand he is in the premier

league. He also knows that they don’t give a fig if he’s number one or

not. It’s to be hoped his job doesn’t change him.



Compliments aside, Burnett and FCB know they are chasing the same

rainbow: the rush to provide a full, integrated service to all key

clients, region by region.



However, the plain fact is that there are simply not enough gems to go

round, be they DM agencies or database mining companies. So, the big

groups will have to cast aside some of their conservatism and be more

inventive, be more nimble. That’s the real test: you can take Leo

Burnett and FCB out of Chicago, but can you take the Chicago out of

them?



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