Madison Avenue has become the creative battleground for a war between smaller independents and major agency networks.
Smaller shops tout their superior creative output-and attract leading advertisers for this reason-while many agency leviathans de-layer and cluster account and creative groups in attempts to remake themselves in the image of their smaller brethren, without deemphasizing their global presence.
Clients of all sizes and all sorts of marketing objectives now are torn between the two, the new generation and the ageless. As a result, in selecting an Agency of the Year for 1993, the editors of Advertising Age decided to recognize these tiers and the broader search for creativity.
In that spirit, Ad Age has named two agencies-one David; one Goliath-as Agency of the Year. Only by selecting two could the trends and advertiser options of today be acknowledged.
New York-based Deutsch, formerly Deutsch/Dworin, last year metamorphosed from a brat-pack agency into a serious shop that started to shed its corporate-but not its creative-in-your-face arrogance. The result: An agency that made it into most of last year's account reviews and often was the winner.
At the same time, it turned out dynamic, bold, largely retail creative for clients including Ikea and LensCrafters.
The new-business gains resulted from the winning chemistry of 36-year-old Mr. Deutsch, who is ceo; Exec VP-Director of Account Planning Cheryl Greene and former president Steve Dworin.
For Ad Age's "small-agency" pick-a shop founded in 1969 by David Deutsch, Donny's father-bigger means better. The quality of its creative output improved last year while billings jumped 33% with new accounts including Tanqueray ($15 million); Prudential Securities ($20 million) and Hardee's Food Systems ($75 million).
Industry observers say this growth, and Mr. Deutsch's attempt to accommodate the gains, forced the cocky but amiable executive-a Wharton School of Business grad who's more management impresario than creative wizard-to delegate authority.
Recognizing his core strength as agency maitre d', Mr. Deutsch named two creative chefs, Exec VP-Creative Directors Greg DiNoto and Richard Russo, a recent recruit from Ogilvy & Mather.
"I'm somebody who's obviously in front and I'm not shy about attention," says Mr. Deutsch, adding with new-found modesty: "There is a tremendous group that runs the agency."
Evidence is in the refreshing, reality-based campaigns that work.
One of the agency's standout campaigns last year was for furniture retailer Ikea. While continuing its theme, "It's a big country. Someone's got to furnish it," created five years ago by Deutsch, the campaign has gone for humor and truth.
In one spot, a divorced woman in her 30s-shopping to replace furnishings lost to her ex-says she wants furniture to be comfortable for her small daughter and look nice "so that I can have guys over maybe in, like, 10 years."
The lifestyle campaign, Mr. Deutsch says, has helped bolster both traffic and sales at Ikea outlets which, after the new effort's debut last year, saw in-store traffic jump 44% ahead of 1992.
"Sales are 17% higher than a year ago across all U.S. markets and average weekly sales continue to surpass 15% on a continuing basis," Mr. Deutsch notes.
A campaign for the Pontiac Dealers Association of Greater New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, a longtime Deutsch client, features luxury-car buyers who, after hearing about Pontiac features and list price, quip catchy phrases like, "I blew it on the Beemer."
Tristate Pontiac sales jumped 17% during the campaign, compared to the General Motors Corp. division's total 8% U.S. increase, says Mr. Deutsch.
The agency-with its penchant for using real people or actors who can pass for "real people" in commercials-also turned out a memorable campaign for Pitney-Bowes that breaks through typical office-techno-clutter advertising.
With a copier set up in Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, a haggard Pitney manager invites countless commuters to make more than 1 million copies, pointing out how the machine not only withstood this speed-motion onslaught but purred "like a kitten" through the three-commercial run.
"It's more than growing up," Ms. Greene, 49, says of the shop's evolution. "The agency really flowered last year. Up until then it was like a plant with a long green stem growing rapidly. But in 1993, the agency really came into its own.
"We're not a hot creative shop anymore," she continues. "We're a mid-sized creative agency."
As a large-sized creative agency, BBDO Worldwide proved impressively that even with its huge $1.8 billion in U.S. billings, a 10% increase over the year before, it can run like a boutique and turn out work that proves the point.
(This is BBDO's second time around as Agency of the Year. The shop-with offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis-earned the award in 1984.)
The agency is more creatively spirited than other jumbo shops in part because it often pits its creatives against each other for in-house creative shootouts.
Last year, the shop continued its outstanding work for longtime clients such as Pepsi-Cola Co. as well as for clients new to the roster since the shop's previous selection: Apple Computer, Federal Express Co. and Pizza Hut.
While the agency's work continues to reflect the agile spirit of its highly regarded creative czar Phil Dusenberry, the New York chairman-ceo in '93 passed the creative department baton to longtime understudy Ted Sann, 48, now vice-chairman-chief creative officer.
"We are quickly forming the next generation of leadership at BBDO," says Mr. Dusenberry, 57, acknowledging that the generational transition occurred without a blip in BBDO's creative end product.
"All the changes have been evolutionary, nothing radical, and that comes from the nature of the place," says Mr. Sann, who oversees Executive Creative Directors Al Merrin and Michael Patti and Charlie Miesmer, senior executive creative director. "It's not that one day we were Republicans and the next day we were Democrats. The changes are day-to-day on individual pieces of business."
Among BBDO's most noteworthy creative contributions last year is the new work for Campbell Soup Co., themed "Never underestimate the power of soup."
Replacing the long-entrenched "M'm! M'm! Good!" the campaign helped revive sluggish sales for the flagship red-and-white soup line. Sales rose 5.8% in the 13 weeks after the campaign began, according to Information Resources Inc.
"One purpose [of the effort] was to make the brand more contemporary and to reach 18-to-34 year olds," says a Campbell spokesman, who notes "the brand rating increased significantly for that group and, meanwhile, it didn't turn off" older groups.
From the agency's Los Angeles office, Chairman-CEO Steve Hayden, 46, has overseen development of the agency's award-winning "What's on your PowerBook?" print and TV campaign for Apple Computer's new laptop.
In one memorable TV spot, a 77-year-old war veteran talks about writing his memoirs for his grandchildren: "I've been a soldier and a father. I've been to war; I've raised a family. I have made mistakes. ..."
For the overall PowerBook campaign, the agency and Apple last year won the industry's top award for advertising effectiveness, the Grand Effie from the New York chapter of the American Marketing Association. The award was based on PowerBook sales breaking $1 billion, and representing 21% of its product category.
In the agency's tradition of celebrity "event" campaigns, New York-client Pepsi again took the court with "Playground," a commercial in which a self-possessed tyke refuses to share his soft drink with basketball star, and Pepsi spokesman, Shaquille O'Neal. The spot deftly plays off Coca-Cola Co.'s celebrated 1970s "Mean Joe Greene" commercial, where soda-sharing took place between hero and kid.
The O'Neal spot, in which the youngster warns the superstar, "Don't even think about it," is part of the new "Be Young. Have Fun. Drink Pepsi" campaign.
Messrs. Dusenberry, Sann and worldwide Chairman-CEO Allen Rosenshine all maintain the secret of BBDO's overall success is no real secret: "It's acting like a smaller shop. Not acting big is important to us. We don't want to be big in terms of bureaucracies, something that can drag an agency down," says Mr. Dusenberry.
But, notably, in a time when bean counters and account men are increasingly appointed to top agency posts, BBDO-like Deutsch-is manned by creative executives.
"Good creative, inspired creative comes from creative people," says Mr. Rosenshine, 55, a top-notch copywriter in his earlier BBDO days. "Where they are is where the work gets good. If a large company is committed from top management on down to great creativity as the linchpin of its reputation, then why wouldn't a great creative person want to work there? Why would a great creative person hesitate to work at BBDO?"
BBDO and Deutsch-two that excelled in a competitive and changing 1993.