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Creative legacy needs heir

Published on .

Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney weathered the loss of dot-com clients eToys, Discovery.com and Webvan Group with a few layoffs and maintained billings at a self-reported flat $825 million. By the end of 2001, however, the San Francisco-based shop was on the brink of losing a significant portion of not only its signature account but also a key selling proposition as an advertising agency: the Saturn case study. General Motors Corp.'s Saturn early this year will decide on an agency for its important new Ion vehicles, an anticipated $100 million assignment. The contest pits the man who birthed the Saturn brand, Hal Riney, against the prowess of Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and independent Wieden & Kennedy, among others. Still, no matter the outcome, Riney still has a strong lineup with Sprint PCS. It also has built an impressive network of client-customized field offices.

LOOKING AHEAD

Riney has long thrived on the reputation of its legendary creative. But as one agency analyst put it, "The fact is that Hal is not the driving force anymore." It's time to develop the creative legacy.

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