DraftFCB Preps to Drop Draft from Name

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DraftFCB is preparing to drop Draft from its name.

According to executives familiar with the agency, the Draft name is about to be jettisoned from the moniker of one of Interpublic's largest agency networks on the global level. It's unclear whether the shop will then be formally called FCB, Foote, Cone & Belding, or both. However, it's believed both monikers may end up on the new logo. Executive Chairman Howard Draft will remain with the agency in his current role.

DraftFCB in July filed a trademark for "FCB," and in November filed a trademark for "Foote, Cone & Belding."

Draft declined to comment other than a statement saying, "We have been looking at every part of our agency and agency brand in the last four months to see where we can further improve our offering for our clients, our teams and prospects. It is not appropriate at this time to talk about internal discussions."

Foote, Cone & Belding is a storied name. It was the creative agency predecessor to DraftFCB before it merged with marketing-services shop Draft in 2006 and Mr. Draft was named CEO. By Jan. 1, 2007, DraftFCB began operating under a common P&L. At the time, it was touted as a different kind of agency, one that has big ideas that "can be brought across all media, all channels, all distribution models," said Interpublic Chairman-CEO Michael Roth at the time of the merger.

Carter Murray
Carter Murray

The name-change news comes just months after CEO Carter Murray came to run the beleaguered agency in September. When Mr. Carter was named CEO, it was announced that Mr. Draft would retain his executive-chairman post, working with a number of the agency's major clients and on special projects.

Mr. Draft was named DraftFCB's CEO when FCB and Draft merged in 2006. Laurence Boschetto succeeded him in that post in 2009, and Mr. Draft stayed on as executive chairman.

Mr. Murray issued a vote of confidence for Mr. Draft in the agency's statement, saying, "Howard Draft has been nothing but supportive in my new role and cares deeply about DraftFCB. Howard remains in his role as executive chairman, enthusiastic about the future and a valued part of our team."

Mr. Murray has made a slew of changes since September. In November, Lee Garfinkel was named CEO of the agency's New York office. In September, the same month Mr. Murray started, Chris Shumaker was named DraftFCB's North American chief marketing officer and Nigel Jones was tapped as worldwide chief strategy officer. Both were Publicis veterans.

Among other executive changes, Mr. Murray brought in Morgan Shorey, also a Publicis alum, as senior VP-strategic business development in October. He also retained Jonathan Harries, who had planned to leave the agency at the end of the year, as global chief creative officer. Elyssa Phillips, previously exec VP-worldwide creative manager, was promoted to chief of staff.

It's rather ironic that the agency would rename itself FCB, given that most of its major account defections in the last three years have been legacy accounts from that agency or clients that can be traced back to FCB. DraftFCB in recent years has also struggled to improve its creative reputation. One of the agency's biggest and longest-running accounts, SC Johnson, split with the agency in 2011 after 58 years. The agency also saw the gradual exodus of much of its Kraft account, and the MillerCoors account left in 2012 without a review.

In the months leading up to Mr. Murray's arrival -- and since his arrival -- the agency has picked up a number of smaller accounts, including food-service and uniform supplier Aramark and Raybern Foods. The New York office won an assignment from the USDA, and the San Francisco office added the Nature Conservancy.

Howard Draft
Howard Draft

Prior to Mr. Murray's arrival, DraftFCB's Chicago office retained Kmart's creative account after a protracted review. But it lost its Newell Rubbermaid business, which includes the Sharpie brand, and the remainder of its U.S. Postal Service business, which included retail, promotion and point-of-sale.

Both Draft and FCB trace their origins to Chicago. FCB, founded in 1873, lays claim to being the world's third-oldest agency. It was named Foote, Cone & Belding, the successor to Lord & Thomas, in 1943 and became the first major U.S. ad agency to make a public stock offering in 1963.

Foote, Cone & Belding Communications was set up as holding company in 1987, and in 1988, entered into partnership with Publicis to set up a joint venture called Publicis-FCB. In 1992, FCB Communications reorganized and became True North Communications, which was acquired by Interpublic in 2001.

Draft's roots go back to 1978. It was bought by Interpublic in 1996.

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