SHOP SPRINTS AHEAD WITH INFO-AGE WINS: RUNNER-UP MCCANN-ERICKSON WORLDWIDE---- AGENCY RATING: 4 STARS

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It was a priceless year for McCann-Erickson Worldwide. With more than $500 million in new wins and solid creative, the agency earned Advertising Age's runner-up position in a tight race for Agency of the Year. McCann won the $150 million Sprint Corp. and $100 million Gateway accounts, both important brands in an increasingly information-dependent society. While creative for the two companies is just starting, the agency also launched a strong $100 million global Motorola campaign set to the classic Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want." McCann also won Boston Beer, Silicon Graphics and Bally Total Fitness, along with roster additions and/or assignments from Johnson & Johnson, Jerzees and Sony Pictures.

McCann continued its strong "Priceless" MasterCard campaign that began in 1997, the same year it won the $100 million U.S. account. This year, though, the creatives at McCann played with the theme-in one spot for MasterCard debit cards, the agency used the familiar pang of waiting in line for mystery manager "Al" to approve a check, pointing out humorously that not waiting could be priceless. Also fun was its use of the MasterCard logo in a variety of circumstances, with the red and orange circles appearing as beer coasters and baseballs. Other credit card companies are following the lead. New Chase Manhattan Bank ads focus on what consumers can buy in a weekend with their credit card; Discover Card is looking for a change, with a review of agencies for its $70 million account.

McCann also last year strengthened its already solid integrated marketing capabilities with the acquisitions of sales promotion agency Louis London, St. Louis, and relationship marketing shop Gillespie, Princeton, N.J.

LOOKING AHEAD

The only slight on McCann's sheet is its weakened San Francisco office. After the loss of AT&T Corp. due to consolidation in late 1997, McCann-San Francisco lost the Safeway creative when the grocery store merged with another chain; McCann retained media buying. The agency is searching for a new creative director in San Francisco.

The other major loss for the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency was Chase, also as a result of a merger.

Some late-year management changes were strong endorsements for Nina DiSesa, who became New York chairman and chief creative officer; and Eric Keshin, who played key roles in both the Gateway and Sprint wins and was named exec VP-chief operating officer, New York. Both are expected to work closely with North American chief Don Dillon in a triumvirate that could mean an even sunnier 1999.

McCann's creative challenges will include breaking through the cluttered telecommunications category with its first corporate branding work for Sprint,

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