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2004 Rating: 3 stars

The essence: The new-business climate has been drier than the Texas air the last two years for this Austin-based Omnicom shop. You'd have to go back to 2002 for a major win, but the agency continues to gain work from existing clients. The year ended on a down note for the agency. The Kia Motors America pitch was settled with independent incumbent Davidand-goliath retaining the business.

Net growth: The losses of discount brokerage Charles Schwab & Co. and the largely inactive Kinko's were offset by Frito-Lay's Tostitos and Discovery Channel wins. It also expanded business from SBC Communications, Dreamworks and United Healthcare. A new-business burst, however, is needed.

management: GSD&M remains a stable place to work as the agency experienced no major shifts in leadership in 2004.

Creative quality and effectiveness: GSD&M pumped out quirky TV spots, including the street-talking dad for SBC Yahoo and the "Want to get away?" series for Southwest Airlines. The agency's print work, particularly the series of rich Sacha Waldman photographs for Kohler Co. and the chilling tableaux of body-bagged seniors for AARP Publications' attempt to get advertisers' attention, were also compelling. The agency helped drum up buzz for the American Legacy Found-ation's "Bob Quits" campaign, an integrated effort that depicted the real-life travails of a man trying to shake the habit. Southwest, the largest discount airline, continues to be a rare bright spot in a turbulent environment. And it doesn't hurt to work with the world's biggest company, Wal-Mart Stores, even if the retailer eschews flashy ads.

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