Adages

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Dispatches from the front

Unilever has made changes to its "watch list" of countries banned for executive travel. The company says some trips are allowed "on a critical necessity basis" but otherwise company suits are not allowed to venture to places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Also just added to the list: the United States. This following the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 and fears of more to come. Despite the danger, Unilever's London-based chairman, Niall Fitzgerald, and a team of 50 Unilever executives are already invoking the "critical necessity" exemption. What is so important that these men are willing to risk their lives? The New York City Marathon on Nov. 4. A spokesman says the Unilever Marathon team will raise "tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars" for charity. The decision to compete "is not a defiant gesture," he assures Adages. Unilever has planned to participate for quite some time.

RFP or RIP?

Is a $1 billion car account worth killing for? That's part of the plot of the first novel from Mike Brogan, development director and a veteran of Interpublic's Campbell-Ewald. Mike, who headed two of the agency's European offices for six years in the 1970s before returning to his native Detroit, says he wrote "Business to Kill For" in his spare time over the past five years or so. The genesis for the book was a conversation he overheard in a German hotel bar. Two execs were joking about rubbing out the competition. The book has just arrived in bookstores. Brogan, married to Detroit ad agency maven Marcie Brogan, says he's already working on his second book.

The taste you never get tired of

Adages was leaked a "high priority" memo to Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles' European executives. It was signed "Susan and John." That would be agency co-heads Susan Giannino and John Farrell. The memo is a post mortem following the agency's loss of Coke and was obviously written by John, a Brit. (Note the queen's English.)

"Whilst [the loss] is obviously disappointing ... Coca-Cola represents less than 1% of our global income nowadays. Whilst it was and is a prestigious account, it was by no means one of our most significant."

D'Arcy lost Coke Nascar promotions this month after the marketer of sugared soda water consolidated its advertising at WPP and Interpublic agencies. The D'Arcy memo is a noble effort to boost morale but it also is a reminder not to forget the bottom line.

"What about completing existing Coca-Cola Co. assignments? Obviously we should continue to operate entirely professionally with respect to this, albeit we should be more vigilant than ever in ensuring our paper trails hold up to scrutiny and that we are getting paid in a timely fashion." The agency will not forget monies owed them, but it's more than willing to forgive. The memo says the agency should be ready to pitch Coke again.

"Albeit we should do no speculative creative work and should only proceed on the basis of clearly defined and understood income possibilities."

After John learned Adages received the memo, he dashed off another, threatening a witch hunt. "I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of your confidentiality responsibilities. Needless to say we will be looking into finding the source of the leak, and will be taking appropriate action."

Contributing: Suzanne Bidlake, Jean Halliday, Kate MacArthur and Laurel Wentz.

Send high-priority items to rlinnett@crain.com