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SPIKE LEE TO LINK WITH NEEDHAM TO FORM OWN SHOP;FAMED DIRECTOR POISED TO HEAD FREE-STANDING CREATIVE UNIT

By Published on .

Film director Spike Lee is going into the agency business.

At press time, Mr. Lee was in the final stages of a deal to form a joint but free-standing creative unit with DDB Needham Worldwide. One of the names under consideration is Spike DDB.

The venture is expected to be announced Dec. 6 in New York.

LEE TO BE CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Executives close to the deal said Mr. Lee will be the creative director of the agency, working closely with art director Geoff Edwards and copywriter Colin Costello of DDB Needham's Chicago office. That team will split their time between Chicago and the new entity, which will be in New York.

Messrs. Edwards and Costello worked with Mr. Lee this past spring on an Anheuser-Busch education spot for the College Fund/United Negro College Fund.

The new shop will be small with a limited staff. DDB Needham will handle all research, media planning and buying for the new operation on an as-needed basis.

There are no specific client assignments yet; the operation will have access to DDB Needham clients but will be free to pursue its own business.

Although the company will focus on commercials with an urban edge, it won't limit itself to advertisers seeking that genre.

SHOP TO BE JOINTLY OWNED

DDB Needham executives and Mr. Lee's office declined to comment, but one executive said the operation will be jointly owned by DDB Needham and Mr. Lee.

Mr. Lee's commercial credits are legion, including famous work for Nike via Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., and Levi's jeans with Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco.

He also owns the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based movie production company 40 Acres & a Mule Filmworks.

The DDB Needham deal follows the breakdown of talks two years ago between sister Omnicom Group agency BBDO Worldwide and Mr. Lee.

Contributing: Mark Gleason.

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