VIEWPOINT: FIRING BACK AT FICKLE CLIENTS: A LOT TO CHEER

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For years, advertising agencies have worn client fealty like a coat of arms, an allegiance to be honored at all costs even when advertisers begin to stray. Time and again, an account will go into review and, inevitably, the incumbent-if invited-has to defend itself, waging time, money and morale in what is often a losing battle.

Happily for the agency business that's changing. Grey Advertising defied convention and resigned Domino's Pizza after that $75 million account was thrown into review by a new marketing executive who didn't want the company resting "on its laurels." Bravo to Grey and the few like it for making a tough and clean call, among them Ammirati Puris Lintas, which in 1992 resigned BMW when it was blindsided by a review. (See related Letters to the Editor on this page.)

Other agencies-fearing the impact of client mergers and interminable musical chairs in the executive suite, and tired of the uncertainty wrought by frequent creative shootouts on brands that aren't even in review-have begun rethinking blind devotion. To protect their own brands, agencies should do just that.

What they shouldn't do is adopt the ways of some clients, where loyalty to agency partners seems in decidedly short supply-witness also the multiple-agency brands. GTE, seeking a new shop for its $80 million telecommunications account, actively wooed ad agencies with clear client conflicts. Supposedly among them: Ogilvy & Mather, the Nynex agency, which called such talk "speculation."

It was O&M that, in 1994, dumped both Microsoft Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. to walk away with the $600 million IBM account. Although that was billed as a totally unforeseen shift, it turned out BBDO Worldwide had first been approached by the computer giant.

BBDO's decision then to stick by longtime client Apple Computer, much praised at the time, is questionable in hindsight given Apple's internal and marketplace woes. But it's clear today that GTE's and O&M's apparent actions are no panacea for what ails agency/client relationships.

Wanna party? Here's a powerful reason for one: The 100th anniversary of New York City's singular role as adver-tising's home town. To ob-serve this centennial in terms of the Advertising Club of New York's founding, we've summarized its rich history in this issue.

In 1896 and 1897, a dedicated group of ad agency and media leaders began breaking bread together in Manhattan and talking about the need for rules concerning ad rates, commissions and a long list of ad practices. In creating the city's Ad Club around this deep commitment to honorable business conduct, they effectively turned away those advertising "agents" who once operated so recklessly.

This ongoing legacy is one the entire nation can honor with pride. The founders' agenda is part of a century in which ad agencies helped the nation navigate toward growth and progress. Advertising, rightly or wrongly embedded in the world's consciousness as "Madison Avenue," continues to generate jobs, valuable new skills, business activity and higher national goals.

As we celebrate the contributions of the Ad Club of New York, we look forward to the new millennium. And we hope that those who regard advertising as a form of free enterprise Hell will take the trouble to learn why advertising, even on its

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