Agency Demise 'Greatly Exaggerated,' Crows Creative Exec

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Boeing Co. this morning awarded its $70 million global account to Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, after a four-month review. FCB bested Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide and WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, both Chicago.

"The move of our headquarters to Chicago in September provided us with an opportunity to reassess our advertising needs," said Anne Toulouse, Boeing's vice president of brand management and advertising.

Big morale booster
The announcement represents a huge win, both in business and morale, for an agency that has had a roller-coaster 12 months. Since last November, FCB has lost DaimlerChrysler Chrysler Group's $800 million account, the $400 million AT&T Wireless account in July and in September was stung when PepsiCo and sibling Quaker Oats Co. decided to move $350 million in business to Omnicom.

FCB did win most of those losses back by netting accounts for Samsung Electronics, Kraft Foods' Jell-O and Circuit City Stores, among others. But it has also faced a barrage of industry publicity in recent weeks with high-profile lawsuits regarding the PepsiCo decision and the subsequent acquisition of new business from Pepsi's archrival, Coca-Cola Co.

"We did what we always do -- we gave our clients great work from terrific people," FCB Chairman-CEO Brendan Ryan said. "It's a great tribute to FCB Chicago that with all the [stuff] going on, they persevered."

FCB demise 'greatly exaggerated'
Said FCB Chicago Chairman-Worldwide Creative Director Jonathan Harries: "I think it means all the nasty rumors and vindictive things going on about the so-called demise of this office, like George Bernard Shaw said, it's been greatly exaggerated."

Messrs. Ryan and Harries and the rest of FCB's staff were the last to officially hear. Boeing called BBDO and J. Walter Thompson first. However, all three had an inkling of the decision Tuesday morning when a published report indicated that Boeing had selected FCB late Monday night.

All three agencies denied being the source, leading to speculation that the client or the consultant leaked the information. In fact, Interpublic Chairman-CEO John Dooner called Mr. Ryan from his car early Monday to ask, "What's going on?"

'Even the cafeteria guy'
"Even the guy who runs the cafeteria here had read it," Mr. Harries said. "But we weren't banking on anything until we heard from Boeing."

FCB, Seattle, was the incumbent on the Boeing account, but FCB Chicago pitched when the aerospace giant moved its headquarters from Seattle to the Windy City.

Boeing heard final 20-minute pitches from each of the three candidates on Monday, then asked they remain at their offices Tuesday for the decision, after which the winner was notified and summoned to Boeing's offices for a planning and strategy session.

The agencies made their full pitches early last month, and Boeing was set to announce a winner by Oct. 9. But Boeing Chairman-CEO Philip Condit was unavailable at the time due to scheduling conflicts. He was in Chicago to listen to the final presentations Monday.

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