Indie bolsters overseas units

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Wieden & Kennedy weathered the dot-com firestorm, but the independent shop suffered perhaps the most significant hit to its blue-chip client strategy when Interpublic Group of Cos. pulled off a Coca-Cola Co. consolidation. Wieden lost Diet Coke and Barq's root beer, though it at least temporarily keeps the $60 million Powerade business. With some 70 fewer employees, creative remains strong, both in traditional media, such work for Miller's High Life, and with innovative formats, such as Nike's "Road to Paris" combo ad, infomercial and documentary.

Growth continues at its built-from-scratch overseas branches, with Tokyo building a creative reputation of its own and troublesome London now stable.

LOOKING AHEAD

2002 looms as the year Wieden, now a finalist in the review for General Motors Corp.'s Saturn, finally may be able to shake off the mid-1990s Subaru loss. The larger issue: Wieden is the most coveted independent left out there as potential takeover target.

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