Luca Lindner was in NY last week on a shopping trip. He's the London-based CEO of Red Cell, which was once called Conquest and is being remade as WPP's fourth global network. So far the agency has offices in Milan and London. Batey, a Singapore agency, also is part of the network but refuses to use the Red Cell name. Seattle's Cole & Weber is in the network, too; employees answer the phone "Cole & Weber Red Cell." But how about NY? Luca, looking for a small independent creative shop in the Big Apple, complained over lunch there was nothing left to buy. He's resigned to starting an agency from scratch, and so is taking interviews with creative directors. He's talked to Paul Meijer, the former Y&R Amsterdam creative who paints his fingernails black. Meijer, dubbed the Mick Jagger of advertising, has a reputation for being difficult. "Creative people, they really should be crazy," says Luca. "Otherwise, I don't know if I trust them."
First Blood, Part 2
Some say Red Cell refers to Ogilvy's official color red, and thus the agency is an offshoot. "No, not at all," Luca sniffs, with some disdain. The Conquest name was dropped, others say, because it was too warlike. So why did WPP go with something that reminds Adages of the Red Brigades? "The name refers to blood," says Luca. Other names that were under consideration? "Little Tiger" and "David" (as in David and Goliath, not goliath David Ogilvy). Luca's personal favorite was David. It wasn't chosen, he says, because some WPP executives felt it was "too Jewish."
I am Curious, Yellow
Industry observers say Atlanta soon will see an influx of "experienced Swedes." Lowe Brindfors, Stockholm, will open an office in the Atlanta area to service Saab USA's account. The GM-owned Swedish automaker recently handed its $65 million global business entirely to the Stockholm agency. Should Helga and Lars book flights to Hartsfield? Not necessary, says Saab's Kristi August Smith, nat'l ad manager here. She says the agency is not looking for experienced Swedes (or even innocent Swedes), just Americans with automotive experience.
TBWA eyes Amazon
The review is still under way, but TBWA/Chiat/Day's San Francisco execs are confidently telling friends they own the $32 mil Amazon.com account. Other contenders in the pitch are Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., and Leagas Delaney, SF and London. TBWA in 1999 positioned itself as a dot-com force with a claim of $290 mil in dot-com billings. But many of its wins never materialized or faded away, including work for Pets.com, OnHealth, Weather.com, Amazon rival barnesandnoble.com, Webstreet and Kozmo.com. When DiMassimo Brand Advertising handled Kozmo.com, it was estimated to be worth $10 million. After TBWA won it, the breast-beating shop added a zero and said it was worth $100 million. When it lost the Koz, the figure went down to $30 million.
Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo, Jean Halliday and Laurel Wentz
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