FCB Tries to Export San Francisco Sparkle to Chicago

Foote, Cone & Belding Moves Geoff Thompson From West Coast to Midwest

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Foote, Cone & Belding hopes to export some of its San Francisco office's verve to Chicago through a creative department shake-up announced last week.

Eric Weber, 51, will give up his title of executive creative director in the Chicago office. Replacing him is Geoff Thompson, also 51, currently senior VP-deputy executive creative director/group creative director in San Francisco.

Mr. Thompson will assume leadership of the agency's Chicago creative department as exec VP-executive creative director after 15 years in the agency's booming San Francisco office, the largest agency on the West Coast. Outside executives are being interviewed to replace him in San Francisco.

Although Mitch Engle, managing director in Chicago, said Mr. Weber's departure was "agreeable" to all involved, executives in agency circles said a reason could be the office's failure to win key accounts last year, including the $90 million Helene Curtis Industries assignment snagged byDDB Needham Worldwide.

There's also internal speculation that Mr. Weber, eagerly wooed by FCB to join the agency in September 1991 after 12 years at Young & Rubicam, New York, failed to live up to FCB's expectations of breakthrough creative during his tenure.

Mr. Weber said his stint in Chicago has been "challenging," and he's looking forward to returning to the East Coast and a more hands-on creative role at an agency, possibly at FCB's New York or Philadelphia offices.

"I'm exhausted, quite frankly, and if I can find a way to create major campaigns in a gentle way, without having to be in an executive role at an agency, I'll welcome it," he said.

Mr. Thompson, a copywriter, has worked closely with Mike Koelker, exec VP-executive creative director in San Francisco and corporate director of creative development. Mr. Thompson's duties have included recruiting and juggling creative assignments. He's also credited with helping create recent strong advertising for Levi Strauss & Co.,Coors Brewing Co.'s Zima brand, and new creative for Epson America.

Mr. Thompson's agency recruiting duties have been split between the San Francisco creative team of Tim Price, senior VP-creative director, and Corey Stohlberg, VP-associate creative director. Creative department administrative duties will still be handled by Leslie Caldwell, a senior VP and Mr. Koelker's creative partner.

FCB's 520-person San Francisco office, with 50 people on the creative staff, increased billings 24.7% last year to $680 million. Other major accounts include PepsiCo's Taco Bell, Clorox Co., Pacific Telesis Group, Qantas Airlines and the California Raisin Advisory Board.

Billings at FCB's 585-person Chicago office, with 120 people in the creative department, grew just 4.6% last year to $618 million.

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