In October 1979, Reinhard Springer started his own shop in Hamburg. The agency, called Springer, got off to a slow start until 1983, when Konstantin Jacoby joined him. The two renamed the agency Springer & Jacoby. In just a few months, the agency added more clients, including the newsweekly Der Spiegel, Panasonic, Carlsberg beer, Neckermann Mail Order and Nixdorf Computers.
Within about a year, Springer & Jacoby had become the hottest agency in Germany, a reputation it maintained into the 21st century.
Contributing to the agency's new image was the Bronze Lion it won at the 1984 Cannes International Advertising Festival, for a commercial for Der Spiegel.
At the same time, it was adding more clients: Bacardi rum, Reemtsma cigarettes and household appliance marketer Miele. The agency grew steadily through the 1980s; by 1991, it ranked No. 14 in Germany, with a gross income of $24.6 million and 246 employees, according to the German newsletter Der Kontakter.
In 1989, Springer & Jacoby landed a coup when it won the German Mercedes-Benz account. Springer & Jacoby spots featured tennis star Boris Becker and race car driver Mika Häkkinen. Business continued to grow in the 1990s, with the agency adding new clients such as Deutsche Post subsidiary Postbank and IBM Corp.
In 1994, Messrs. Springer and Jacoby stepped down from full-time operations at the agency to give younger managers a chance to head the agency. The partners gave 50% of their shares to leading employees, a decision that was unheard of in German agency history. Top management was split among five employees.
In 1995, Deutsche Telekom appointed Springer & Jacoby to handle its $10 million "product sales" budget. But with the privatization of Deutsche Telekom and new rivals entering the market, the budget grew to $85 million, making it the agency's biggest account in 2001.
However, not all account wins proved successful. In 1997, Deutsche Lufthansa appointed Springer & Jacoby as its global agency. The relationship deteriorated, but some critics said the campaign was Springer & Jacoby's best work. (Early in 2000, the global account moved to McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Frankfurt.)
In 1995, the agency opened its first brochure and catalog agency, e-fact, in London. That shop handled all Mercedes-Benz's sales literature worldwide in 11 languages. In February 1996, Springer & Jacoby started multimedia agency Elephant Seven in Hamburg, which grew into a highly creative multimedia shop.
Springer & Jacoby believed that in a time of globalization, the lack of an international network—or even a European one—meant it would not be invited to international presentations, but the agency lacked the financial means to set up an independent international network. In 1999, the agency opened Springer & Jacoby International, with a small London office to handle projects for Mercedes-Benz and some small local accounts.
In September 2000, Springer & Jacoby sold 35.5% of its shares to True North, Chicago. With True North's financial backing, the agency planned to set up offices in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. But in 2001, True North itself was acquired by Interpublic Group of Cos.
Despite the loss of the Lufthansa account, 2000 proved to be an excellent year for the agency. Springer & Jacoby won its first Gold Lion at Cannes for work it did for Hamburg's police force. DaimlerChrysler moved its $45 million European SMART budget to the agency. And Coca-Cola Co., with its new strategy of employing local agencies instead of relying on worldwide campaigns, tapped Springer & Jacoby to handle its branding account in Germany.
In September, the agency opened S&J España Barcelona; Mercedes-Benz awarded the agency its Spanish advertising for cars and commercial vans. In February 2001, the agency acquired a minority of Milan-based Colnaghi & Manciani, a small Italian agency. In October Springer & Jacoby Paris opened, with DaimlerChrysler France's Mercedes-Benz account.
For 2002, Springer & Jacoby Group had international revenue of $63.6 million, up 3% from 2001, according to Advertising Age figures.