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Remembrance of things past

"I am not very well known, and I don't care. We are like a team, you see." So said Alain de Pouzilhac, chairman-CEO of Havas Advertising. He was holding court in a hotel suite at the Pierre Hotel, where the Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown media conference was taking place. He was in town with Jacques Herail, his CFO, to present his company's performance to investors. Without spelling it out, Alain was drawing a distinction between himself and a very well-known French advertising exec, Maurice Levy, whose name is virtually synonymous with the company he runs, Publicis. Alain was a disarming, informal host who sat back comfortably on a couch, arm draped over the side. His finely tailored, light-brown suit added an appropriate touch of color to the warmth of his personality. As the French are wont to do, he talked nostalgically about a relationship that ended recently in divorce. It was not with a woman but rather a client, and yet by the emotion in his voice, one would suspect it was more than just business.

"We met with Philips on August 15th, about 10 years ago," said Alain fondly of the electronics company. He remembered the date because it was summer, when no one is in Paris. "I was in the south of France, but I went back to pitch." He was criticized by fellow French ad execs who accused him of breaking with the national tradition of not working during vacation. "We won the business, and it was very dear to my heart."

The bride, however, became fickle and broke Alain's heart last year by dropping him and coupling instead with D'Arcy and DDB. Like a true Frenchman, Alain shrugged. That is life. And then he prepared to go downstairs, where he was to face a roomful of faceless American investors.

Out and about

Phil Geier, chairman emeritus of Interpublic Group, was honored by New York's Whitney Museum at an art-awards black-tie dinner June 4 that included a viewing of Jackson Pollock paintings and a performance by Broadway songstress Alice Ripley. But Phil was said to be privately steaming over a penny-pinching dis by successor John Dooner. Phil hit up each of the Interpublic agencies to buy a table at the dinner. But Dooner said the holding company was buying just one table. Bosses of individual agencies were welcome to take a seat at it but couldn't cough up dough to buy more. Among those who showed were Stone Roberts of Gotham and Michael Sennott of Lowe. Despite the snub, Phil raised a record $2 million for the museum.

It wasn't quite as intriguing as John McCain inviting Tom Daschle out to the ranch for barbecue, but heads turned at media hot spot Michael's last week when Hearst Magazines President Cathie Black lunched with Chuck Townsend, COO at archrival Conde Nast. A hide-in-plain-sight recruiting session? "Chuck's going to be the new editor of Marie Claire," Black chuckled. Townsend insisted the meeting was totally innocent, before adding cryptically, "It's about real estate."

Shock Troops

"You know it's Def-Con 4 around here-they've got the whole agency working on it," said a high-priced free-lancer brought in by BBDO's Gerry Graf to help save the FedEx business. Graf assembled an eclectic mix of outsiders, including copywriter Andy McKeon, formerly with Goodby, Silverstein and Wieden & Kennedy; Young Kim, a former Wieden art director who left the agency to direct TV commercials; Ellen Steinberg, a former senior creative at Fallon's New York office, and Ben Nott, an Australian commerial director who once worked as a creative at Saatchi, London.

Contributing: Scott Donaton

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