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Keep channels open

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Advertising Age Global Editor Conor Dignam talked with Allen Rosenshine and Phil Dusenberry, chairman-CEO and vice chairman, respectively, of BBDO Worldwide, about network issues. Mr. Dusenberry is also chairman of BBDO New York.

On BBDO's focus on "The Work, the Work, the Work" and the industry trend toward more integrated services:

AR: Anything that promotes the brand is "The Work." It's not a conflict for agencies to offer more and more channels. We run the risk of confusing clients and ourselves about what we do if all of our efforts and all of our PR and positioning is about who we acquired lately in some non-core aspect, in order to add some profit to the top line and hopefully some profit to the bottom.

On whether BBDO has fallen behind in developing new media and other communications areas:

AR: Moving into those other areas with precipitancy has cost other agencies a lot of money. At this point we are well on the way to being where we want to be. The only way it may have slowed us down is that it made us more picky about the kind of people we wanted to be associated with, and also scared off some people who didn't want to commit to that type of creative atmosphere.

On the global pitch:

AR: You have to recognize that clients have their own pressure. It doesn't necessarily change what we're going to bring to the table and how we interact with them. As globalization continues-and there's no stopping it-our clients are more and more under extreme competitive pressure, and are looking for ways to lower their costs of doing business. Look at the Chrysler review. If we were not doing great work, we wouldn't even be in the review to begin with.

PD: Our belief is that most clients will still buy into the work. It's why agencies win business, it's why agencies lose business. It's very seldom that an agency loses business over a bad media plan or research report, but you can lose it on a bad campaign. You can win it on a great campaign.

On charges that BBDO New York's creative work is getting weaker:

PD: If I could take you back to Charles Schwab & Co. and FedEx, I would have to say that the work is still first rate. When you dominate, as we have in years gone by, at all the award shows and your creative product is put up on a pedestal, it's very hard to maintain day after day, month after month, year after year, that consistency. Even Babe Ruth struck out a few times. Any great agency will take a dip but will always bounce back. We have bench strength here and very deep talent.

On building networkwide communication and shared values:

PD: One of the things that has driven that is a recently set up worldwide creative committee where representatives of what we consider to be our centers of excellence-New York, London, Australia and Brazil-meet regularly. We look at all of the work of the entire network. We look at what we can do to help each other and in new ways of working closely together. You have to understand that in years gone by people in the same network didn't know each other.

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