"Our efforts started to pay off," said the president-CEO of Young & Rubicam, New York, which won the $140 million Blockbuster Video account Jan. 12. "This year we want to do even better."
Sequels can be hard to pull off, and Y&R's '95 new-business record won't be easy to repeat. Including that win, the New York office has pulled in $560 million in new business since January '95. Other big victories: the $30 million Dimetapp account for Whitehall-Robins, the $25 million 7UP account, the $40 million KeyCorp account and the office's share of Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s $550 million billings consolidation.
Mr. Vick, 51, lists a number of factors for Y&R's resurgence, but the biggest is "a vastly improved creative product."
Shortly after Mr. Vick took over as head of the agency in March 1994, Ted Bell moved from Y&R/Europe to New York to become vice chairman-worldwide creative director.
Together the two have worked to refocus the agency on its creative quality.
In the previous two years, the agency had lost close to $150 million in billings and its creative work had been pilloried.
Mr. Vick summed up the task for employees: "It's the ads, guys."
Mr. Bell has turned over a third of the creative department since then, and the results have been regarded as positive.
"They're going in the right direction. I think the Sears stuff is fabulous," said Nina DiSesa, exec VP-executive creative director, McCann-Erickson Worldwide.
Y&R also produced well-regarded work for Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s new Canyon River Blues line of jeans, and for KFC Corp. and Andersen Consulting.
Mr. Vick is quick to spread around the credit. Besides Mr. Bell, he gives high praise to Linda Srere, exec VP-new business development; Mike Samet, exec VP-media and new technologies; and Stephanie Kugelman, exec VP-consumer research.
This is the second turnaround Mr. Vick has engineered for Y&R. From 1992 to 1994, he led a rejuvenation at Landor Associates, Y&R's San Francisco-based corporate-identity agency.
"He's a great team builder, " said Peter Georgescu, Y&R chairman-CEO.
But Mr. Vick isn't looking to move on to Y&R's next trouble spot. "I'm going to stay here for the rest of my career," he said.
"Fortunately, right now we have more opportunities than" trouble spots, Mr. Georgescu said.