COMBINED TBWA, CHIAT PROVES TO BE A WINNER

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Two years after the merger between TBWA Advertising and Chiat/Day, the combined Omnicom Group agency is touting its recent new-business winning streak and the jelling of two cultures.

"Everybody wondered about the merger-and we were condemned as [different] cultures-but look what we've been able to do together," a triumphant TBWA International Chairman-CEO William Tragos said last week.

He cited not just the $90 million Apple Computer assignment but the close to $400 million in billings the agency has added since the beginning of this year. Last year, the agency had billings of $1.2 billion.

"We're firing on all 12 cylinders. We've got our focus back," added Lee Clow, chairman-chief creative officer of TBWA Chiat/Day North America.

FROM TACO BELL TO DOAN'S

Among TBWA's new business this year: Taco Bell Corp. ($200 million); ABC TV ($40 million); Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. ($40 million); Samsonite Corp. ($30 million); Weather Channel ($10 million); Prodigy ($10 million); and Novartis Corp.'s Ascriptin, Gas-X and Doan's Back Relief ($10 million).

The agency also is a finalist in the $50 million Continental Airlines review.

"When you put two companies together, the test to see if they're viable in the advertising industry is to see if [the unified company] is able to win new business," said Alan Gottesman, managing director at West End Communications. "It seems to be working" in TBWA Chiat/Day's case.

CUTTING EDGE CREATIVE

The agency's creative output has been cutting edge and controversial, particularly its brand-image campaigns for Nissan Motor Corp. USA's Nissan division and TV network ABC.

The agency has hit some speed bumps along the way, losing the $70 million America Online business after a brief relationship and being disappointed in its quest to gain the $100 million United Airlines account. There have also been culture clashes, with some old-time Chiat/Day staffers remaining fiercely loyal to that shop's pre-merger identity.

Personnel shifts have included the departure of Marty Cooke, a Chiat/Day veteran and New York executive creative director, who left to join sister shop Merkley Newman Harty, and that of longtime executive Richard Costello, president-CEO of TBWA East, who left for a marketing job at MCA/Universal.

"We've closed the revolving door" now, said Mr. Tragos. "What's next is more of the same, in a nice methodological way. We're not a slash and burn operation.

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