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
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
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,
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