At the same time, the sportswear marketer shunted its $84 million media buying assignment for continental Europe to Carat International, moving it out of Initiative Media.
The new Adidas agency-based in Amsterdam and named 180-was formed by Chris Mendola and Alex Melvin, who previously worked on Nike at Wieden's Amsterdam office.
They left the agency after it was learned the pair was working on a pitch for Nike rival Adidas.
It's not clear whether Mr. Mendola and Mr. Melvin could face any legal challenges to working for Adidas from either Wieden & Kennedy or Nike.
`NOT OUR PROBLEM'
"If they come to us and offer their services, we believe they are free to do so," said a spokesman for Adidas. "If they get it wrong, it's not our problem."
The new agency will work alongside Leagas Delaney, London, the Adidas agency of record, and produce creative work for the brand that will be used around the world.
Neil Simpson, global advertising director, started looking for additional creative resources in June in preparation for a planned 1999 increase in the company's current $200 million global ad budget.
Leagas Delaney, with additional offices in Paris, Rome, Barcelona and San Francisco, isn't sufficiently large to handle the entire account.
The move is to create a "stable of creative talent," according to Mr. Simpson, and also reflects the style of Coca-Cola Co., where Mr. Simpson was European advertising director until August 1997.
Mr. Simpson said the new 180 is an "agency with a strong understanding and passion for the Adidas brand."
Also pitching were BMP DDB and Circus Communications, both London, plus one Spanish and one French agency.
In the media review, Carat International won out over Publicis' Optimedia, WPP Group's MindShare and the incumbent.
According to Adidas, Carat "will help strengthen [our] position in the European advertising market, providing improved media buying solutions for [our] regional organization and the individual markets."
The Carat assignment does not include the U.K., where New PHD, London, handles media.
The European move is the first step in a review of Adidas' entire media planning and buying arrangements outside the U.S., where the business is with Creative Media, New York.
Newly appointed Global Media Director Jason Dawes said he wants to apply more consistency to the company's media processes across the world.
Initiative currently is still responsible for regional buys across Asia and Latin America.