SUISSA COMES UP WINNER AS ACURA 'ROLLS THE DICE'

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Who is Suissa Miller, winner of American Honda Motor Co.'s $100 million Acura review?

Who:David Suissa, 40, the charismatic chairman-executive creative director. Born in Morrocco, raised in Montreal. Ex-brand manager on Ivory soap in Canada for Procter & Gamble Co. Bruce Miller, 44, president. Stanford business grad and former brand manager on P&G's Crisco. The two worked on Paul Masson wines at Doyle Dane Bernbach, Los Angeles.

What: Mr. Suissa opened the agency in 1985, doing ads for casino/hotels and a consumer finance company. Mr. Miller joined in '91, tiring of big agencies with their "chatty Cathy doll excuses" like "we can't do this because it's a conflict with an office in Nicaragua." At that time, Mr. Suissa said his goal was to bring in "multinational clients," such as a car account, "willing to roll the dice on smaller, offbeat shops."

Pre-Acura: $120 million in billings and 82 employees.

Clients: Virtually its entire roster has turned over since 1993. Formerly handled Surf Fetish, a clothing maker; current agency for Bosley Medical Institute, a chain of hair restoration clinics. Other clients include Boston Market, Hunt-Wesson, Dole Food Co.'s fresh vegetables and Jenny Craig International. Also HomeBase, Andrew Jergens Co., Ralcorp Holdings' Beech-Nut baby food and SkyTel.

Reputation: Skilled presenters, with compelling brand and sales success stories. "They have a pretty good case study of how they have helped Jenny Craig," said the head of a Los Angeles agency not in the Acura pitch. Buzz was growing before Acura.

Road to Acura: Consultant Herb Zeltner sent a questionnaire, and Mr. Suissa summoned Mr. Miller from a Paris vacation. They decided to use only current staff and the $25,000 Acura gave them for spec work. The money went for bagels, Starbucks, pizza and some research. "We didn't bother with a lot of silly extras," says Mr. Suissa. "Just a little flip chart and a couple of silly markers."

What now: Agency nearly doubles in size, so looking for more bodies.

First ads: Three or fourth months from now.

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