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By Published on .

On his first official day as vice chairman, Peter Frankel sported a lapel pin and tie with a yellow rose pattern. Yellow roses were a favorite of his late sister, killed in a car accident in 1995.

"When I wear the pin, it's like my sister is with me. She's the only one I could speak to as a peer," he said.

Indeed, Andrea Frankel would have been in a unique position to understand the challenge now faced by her brother, designated heir apparent to his larger-than-life father, Bud Frankel, at the country's ninth-largest marketing services agency. Like Peter, his sister was careerbound at the agency and experienced firsthand what it's like to be the progeny of the famous founder.


"I'm not Bud. I'm not going to be Bud. I don't want to be him. I don't think that's what Frankel needs," said the younger Mr. Frankel, 34. The senior Mr. Frankel remains chairman.

Peter Frankel brings different skills, honed from years of experience as a camp director for the YMCA in Cape Cod, Mass., where he was responsible for all camp operations and trained staff in disciplines from healthcare to foodservice. He learned to juggle all manner of emergencies and was conversant in everything from the camp's insurance policy to handling a food poisoning outbreak to "what to do if a tornado hits."

While he's now working far from a wooded outpost, ensconced in a skyscraper off Chicago's Wacker Drive, he's brought some lessons with him. One is that success means earning respect.

"I'd been working on a camp director's salary. Money's not what drives me," he said.

In fact, until he was in college, he was unaware that his family was more comfortably off than others.

"If I asked Dad for a new bike, he said, `Go get one.' When I told him I had no money, he'd say, `Well now, that's a problem.' "


Nor was Mr. Frankel handed a vice chairman's post on his first day -- he started as a trainee more than four years ago, working in several departments on a rotating basis. Along the way, he was responsible for training 100 "Jingle Elves," goodwill ambassadors for Marshall Field's department store; worked on a direct-mail piece for McDonald's Corp.'s ill-fated Arch Deluxe sandwich; toiled on Frankel's Amoco Oil account; and spent his most recent tenure in the agency's human resources department.

Frankel, a marketing services powerhouse with a treasure trove of clients from Visa USA to the U.S. Postal Service, has long been sought after by rivals and full-service ad agencies. It's also known to have explored a public stock offering, delayed by the recent volatility of the stock market.

But Frankel-watchers now say that in handing over the reins to his son, Bud Frankel is signaling the shop will remain private.


"We're still on hold with the [initial public offering]," said the vice chairman, who is charged with enlarging the $77 million agency, particularly on the international front. The question is how to do that without public funding.

"Nothing is ruled out," he said, "from venture capital to going public."

He'll also be concentrating on getting more business out of Frankel's current crop of clients.

"Sometimes we're so focused on them, we forget about selling ourselves," he said.

And Mr. Frankel plans to do that, undeterred by naysayers who cry nepotism.

"Taking things personally," he said, fingering his rose pin, "has gotten me

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