Mired in client lawsuits

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2001 didn't end soon enough for Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide. The agency and Chairman-CEO Brendan Ryan were dealt several blows during the year. Of note: FCB failed to retain the $400 million AT&T Wireless account and lost $350 million in business when PepsiCo and Quaker Oats Co. moved key accounts to Omnicom Group.

FCB was taken to court by PepsiCo to block the agency from working on similar accounts in the Coca-Cola Co. family. There also was a major flap when FCB Chicago office President Brian Williams, who had close ties to Quaker, followed the business to Omnicom's new Chicago unit. Interpublic and FCB filed suit to prevent a raid of FCB's top talent, but the suit was dropped when a Cook County Circuit Court judge denied Interpublic's motion for a temporary restraining order. About 50 staffers eventually followed PepsiCo out the door to Omnicom.

In several rounds of layoffs, FCB cut about 200 employees.


Watch for FCB to make an aggressive play in 2002 for a car and a telecom account, two things it lacks and that agency executives believe will make FCB a player again.

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