Adidas picks start-up for global creative

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AMSTERDAM -- International sportswear marketer Adidas-Salomon AG has appointed a breakaway agency created by former executives from Nike roster shop Wieden & Kennedy to be an additional source for global creative work.

In another action, Adidas-Salomon shunted its $84 million Continental European media buying assignment to Carat International from Initiative Media Both moves take effect immediately.

The new Adidas agency - based in Amsterdam and named 180 - was formed by Chris Mendola and Alex Melvin, who previously worked on the Nike account at Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam. The pair were fired by Wieden when it was discovered they were working on the Adidas pitch. Their new agency was the expected winner of the new Adidas creative assignment (DWW, Sept.18), though it was thought there may be legal complications.

It's not clear whether Mr. Mendola and Mr. Melvin could face legal challenges from either Nike or W&K, but an Adidas spokesman declares the company unconcerned. "If they come to us and offer their services, we believe they are free to do so," he says. "If they get it wrong, it's not our problem."

The new agency will work alongside Leagas Delaney, London - Adidas' AOR of five years - and produce creative work for the Adidas brand that will be used around the world. Briefing on specific projects will start now.

Adidas Global Advertising Director Neil Simpson started looking last June for additional creative resources in preparation for a planned increase next year in the company's $200 million global advertising budget. Leagas Delaney, with offices in London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona and San Francisco, is not sufficiently big to handle the entire account.

The move to create a "stable of creative talent" also reflects the style of Coca-Cola, where Mr. Simpson was European advertising director until last August. Mr. Simpson says he has found in 180, "another 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, independent network Carat International defeated Publicis' Optimedia, WPPowned MindShare and incumbent Initiative. According to Adidas, the agency "will help strengthen [our] position in the European advertising market, providing improved media buying solutions for [our] regional organization and the individual markets." The win does not include the U.K., where New PHD, London, holds the business.

The Continental Europe 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. Newlyappointed Global Media Director Jason Dawes is keen to apply more consistency to the company's media processes across the world. Initiative is currently still responsible for pan-regional buys across Asia and Latin America.

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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