McCann's wild west

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Last year McCann-Erickson Worldwide polished its West Coast diamond in the rough -- Anderson-Lembke -- and married it to its faltering San Francisco office to become McCann-Erickson/A-L. The sparkle of a global network linked to its pet techie shop lured Microsoft Corp. to consolidate its $220 million U.S. and $180 million international business with McCann.

McCann had purchased the independent tech specialty shop in 1995 and watched as it survived Microsoft's strategy shift from business and product specific advertising to a stab at branding via its other agency, Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

The win rebooted the San Francisco office, which seemed to be heading into sleep mode as key accounts such as Safeway and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. disappeared from the roster.

"Rarely do agencies or holding companies show that stroke of genius," says Greg Stern, president at Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif. "The head office planning and foresight is remarkable. They get high marks for that alone." Of course, all that foresight may prove for naught if the Justice Department has its way and Microsoft is broken up.

At the same time, McCann's L.A. office has continued on a steady course with a solid group of package-goods clients such as Nestle Beverage Co. It got a short-lived boost this year by the win of the $50 million Boeing business-to-business account but lost a key global branding assignment to Bozell Worldwide. Meanwhile, the Seattle office is building its creative reputation under Creative Director Jim Walker.

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