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Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., had two big disappointments in 1999: the loss of the $200 million-plus Microsoft Corp. account and $60 million in Miller Genuine Draft billings.

Still, the shop ended the year with a great morale-building victory, the return of the Nike account from creative rival Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

By plugging away at its creative product with spots such as Tiger Woods' bouncing a golf ball off a club face, reorganizing its staff and making new business a priority, Wieden netted search engine Alta Vista and enough dot-com accounts to claim a billings rebound to $795 million in 1999 -- close to those of the previous year.

As Chief Operating Officer Dave Luhr put it: "We grew up a lot last year. It was a turning point for us."

Looking ahead

With Nike back on board, the agency once again has its best partner for continuing its creative run. But the shop, which once limited itself to a handful of blue- chip clients, now faces the wear and tear of small accounts coming and going, such as its short-lived relationship with Stamps.com. It also is aiming to build its international presence with a long-term goal of increasing non-U.S. billings from 26% to 50%.

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