Weber Shandwick

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2004 Rating: 4 stars

The essence: The world's biggest public relations agency got bigger in 2004. Interpublic Group of Cos' Weber Shandwick picked off an impressive list of new clients, including Allstate Insurance Co., Electronic Arts, Electrolux Group, MasterCard International and Pfizer's Viagra. The year ahead will see if the agency, formed in 2000 with the merger of three large Interpublic agencies, can sustain that growth and become more than the sum of its parts.

Net growth:The agency picked up 14 new clients each with billings in excess of $500,000 and saw major growth from existing clients like General Motors Corp., ExxonMobil, Pfizer and Unilever. An end-of-year highlight was Weber's scooping up KFC Corp. after Edelman resigned the account. The main casualty was Kinko's, following its merger with FedEx Corp.

management: With CEO Harris Diamond overseeing CMG, the collection of Interpublic PR agencies, Andy Polansky was promoted from North American president to global president.

Creative quality and effectiveness: Perhaps the weak spot in the agency's dossier, Weber's creative output is heavy on standard PR fare-media stunts and press conferences-and too light on innovative, campaign-leading strategies. It did, however, pull off a smart, influencer-driven campaign for Electrolux's rollout of its Icon line in North America. Actress spokeswoman Jane Seymour escorted the appliances from Europe aboard the Queen Mary luxury cruise liner and gave demonstrations en route, helping the Electrolux line of home appliances get picked up by more than 300 dealers in the U.S.