NIKE PICKS UP SPEED FOR INT'L REVIEWS: WIEDEN ALLIES WITH MCCANN TO KEEP SPOT ON GLOBAL TEAM

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Nike is accelerating its account reviews around the world and Wieden & Kennedy is counting on an alliance with McCann-Erickson Worldwide to stay in the global game.

In addition to reviews for Asia-Pacific and Japan accounts-expected to be assigned within two weeks (AA, Feb. 6)-Advertising Age has learned the marketer will begin hearing pitches in March for its Eastern European business from BBDO Worldwide, Young & Rubicam and McCann.

McCann and Wieden are jointly pitching the Asia-Pacific and Japan business, but Wieden President-Creative Director Dan Wieden won't comment on whether his agency will join with McCann for the Eastern European account. Nike's ad spending totals $250 million worldwide.

Industry insiders said country-by-country reviews in Western Europe will undoubtedly follow.

A Latin America review could also be in the works. The entire athletic footwear industry is targeting Mexico, Central America and South America for growth in the next decade. BBDO Worldwide already has a portion of Nike's Latin American media buying business. Industry observers say the McCann/Wieden venture is being eyed for the rest.

Nike's growing marketing concerns abroad have placed a strain on the legendary Nike-Wieden relationship, although both sides deny the union is in any danger. Last summer Nike Chairman Phil Knight said the agency and marketer are "two legal entities ... sharing the same soul."

Mr. Wieden said the relationship "transcends the the traditional client-agency relationship and is a template for everyone to follow."

Still, Nike has grown frustrated with the agency's expansion efforts. Nike is said to have informed Wieden last year that it intended to appoint an agency for work outside the U.S., and that Wieden would have to forge a working relationship with that shop. Global advertising for Nike is currently handled out of Wieden's Portland, Ore., and Amsterdam offices.

Wieden opted to pre-empt the international agency search and position itself as a player outside the U.S. last October by picking an agency partner of its own. Wieden and McCann have told Nike they can establish a seamless affiliation, co-mingling creative, media and account management teams. It is not known whether the two shops have invested any cash in the relationship.

For McCann Chairman-CEO John Dooner Jr., teaming with Wieden provides creative cachet and association with a new client. Mr. Dooner had already been looking to affiliate with creative gazelles in the U.S. and abroad.

Wieden/McCann is pitching Nike's Asia/Pacific business along with Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising and J. Walter Thompson Co. Rivals for the Japan account are Dai-Ichi Kikaku, JWT and Dentsu, which handles media buying there.

Mr. Weiden wouldn't comment on his agency's international resources, or on what would happen to the Wieden/McCann partnership should it fail to win either review. The agencies are already jointly servicing media for Wieden client Microsoft Corp. in Japan.M

Contributing to this story: Judann Pollack, Pat Sloan and Melanie Wells.

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