Hubs of activity: Global ad giants keep networking

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How many international agency networks is enough? With few big ones left to buy, the world's biggest advertising organizations are cobbling together their next, smaller entries in the global network stakes.

This week, True North Communications will announce a deal to buy a 35% stake in Springer & Jacoby, Hamburg, a German agency in search of financing to build a European network. And last week Reiner Erfert, the Zurich-based vice chairman of Bcom3 Group, let slip that Bcom3 is quietly assembling agencies under the name Avenue Advertising for a possible new global network.

If created, the network is likely to consist of second shops around the world belonging to Bcom3 agencies Leo Burnett Co. and D'Arcy Benton & Bowles, and Dentsu, a 20% stakeholder in Bcom3, Mr. Erfert said. Burnett opened the first Avenue agency in Mexico a year ago and registered the name in Germany in May. Mr. Erfert cautioned that a final decision on using the Avenue Advertising name has not been made.

At WPP Group, 8-year-old European network Conquest will go global in November. In 1992, Sir Martin Sorrell set up Conquest to handle Fiat's Alfa Romeo auto business in Europe and avoid conflict with Ford Motor Co., a major WPP client.

WPP now is piecing together Conquest's European agencies, U.S. agency Cole & Weber and WPP's Singapore-based Batey Ads. Next year two agencies -- on the East Coast and in Brazil -- will be added, as well as direct marketing and interactive solutions.

DUMPING `CONQUEST' NAME

Conquest CEO Luca Lindner said the Conquest name may be dumped as it sounds too aggressive.

He said the global move was sparked after the shop was dropped from four pitches worth $200 million in the last year.

"[Clients asked] what about the U.S.? What about Asia? This drove us crazy," he said.

Mr. Lindner said he sees a growing client base for the globalized network in newly international brands, citing Ermenegildo Zegna, the $30 million Italian luxury goods account that chose Conquest as its first agency.

"We don't need an agency everywhere in the world, just hubs that can cooperate for global ideas," he said.

Thinking along similar lines, Publicis Group's Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy and Havas Advertising Chairman Alain de Pouzilhac have tapped Pat Fallon and Ed Eskandarian to build their own creative hub networks.

Mr. Fallon, chairman of Fallon, Minneapolis, is to set up Fallon agencies in as many as 14 key markets around the world. The first, in London, has been a surprising hit with the highly critical U.K. creative community.

HAVAS' CAMPUS

Havas, with a collection of European agencies doing business under the Campus banner, doubled Campus' size to $1.6 billion in billings by adding Boston-based Arnold Communications. Now Arnold CEO Ed Eskandarian has to build Campus into a global network.

Ambitious for new business, Springer & Jacoby founder Konstantin Jacoby handed negotiations himself, talking with both Omnicom Group and True North Communications. Springer handles Mercedes-Benz in Germany and hopes to win the rest of Europe if the agency can a build a credible network. Springer opened its own London shop a year ago, working mainly on German airline Lufthansa's international account and some Mercedes business, but suffered a major setback when Lufthansa moved to McCann-Erickson Worldwide.

Both Omnicom and True North's FCB Worldwide network now work for DaimlerChrysler, the parent of Springer client Mercedes. And Springer is favored in a pitch against London agency Leagas Delaney for the Smart car, Europe's tiny urban two-seater.

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