DDB NEEDHAM WORLDWIDE: DID SOMEBODY SAY DDB NEEDHAM?

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Agency Rating: ***

It was a McBanner year for DDB Needham Worldwide Chairman-CEO Keith Reinhard, as he and the Chicago office -- with an assist from others -- regained the $300 million-plus McDonald's Corp. adult business.

While the agency's New York and West Coast offices didn't see much new-business action, DDB Needham's Chicago office was hot, adding financial services company Van Kampen American Capital, Playtex Apparel, Montgomery Ward & Co., H.J. Heinz Co., Sargento Foods and General Mills' Golden Grahams cereal, among others for a total of $415 million in new billings. Although the other domestic offices lagged behind, there were select wins, including New York's nabbing of the consolidated Digital Equipment Corp. global account; San Francisco's gains of Clorox Co.'s Armor All and Ore-Ida Foods; and Dallas' comeback led by Chief Creative Officer Jim Ferguson in landing AlphaGraphics and Viacom's retail unit.

The agency also gained new North American leadership, with Ken Kaess taking on the role of U.S. president.

Still, the Windy City's scorecard underscores the fact that some 11 years after the mergers of Doyle Dane Bernbach and Needham Harper Worldwide, Chicago dominates the rest of the U.S., even as the agency tries to drop the name Needham and go simply by DDB.

LOOKING AHEAD

The joint venture between Spike Lee and DDB Needham has never made much news, making us wonder where Spike's time is spent -- courting clients or courtside at Knicks games. Also, with McDonald's back, the agency may try to reclaim the U.S. Volkswagen business it lost to Arnold Communications in 1995.

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