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[london] When the legendary Doyle Dane Bernbach opened an office in the U.K. in 1964, "It gave the London ad scene a great fillip," recalled Bartle Bogle Hegarty's John Hegarty, revealing his typically British mastery of the shared language.

So, with the arrival in London of both Wieden & Kennedy and Fallon McElligott: "The more good competition we have now, the better we all become," he said.

The new agencies in London are being closely watched by the ad community there; the last time a U.S. agency of similar stature opened an office was when Chiat/Day set up shop in 1990.


"That experience is insightful for Fallon and Wieden," said Andy Law, the chairman of St. Luke's, the successor agency to Chiat/Day in London. "The lesson I learned is that you mustn't hide behind the image of the agency that started you up.

"That reputation didn't count for anything with U.K. clients; it only matters if you have a U.S. client with you."

That both Wieden and Fallon have U.S.-based clients on their London rosters (Nike and VF Corp.'s Lee jeans, respectively) makes the comparison of their emergence only that much more interesting.

On a broader scale, these start-ups represent the global expansion of smaller, creatively driven agency brands, a trend that also has seen the recent entry of Mr. Hegarty's own agency into the U.S. market, with a shop in New York.


It's significant also because Minneapolis-based Fallon and Portland, Ore.-based Wieden are among the last of the great independent U.S. agencies. The formation of their nascent networks will reveal whether shops of their size and breadth can successfully extend their brands in the current agency environment.

In spite of the presence of closely associated clients such as Nike and Lee, executives of both Wieden and Fallon have claimed "becoming global" is much more the objective, rather than merely servicing multinational clients abroad.

"We're exporting the values of our brand to people who understand it and will execute it," said Fallon Chairman Pat Fallon.

While the energetic young London partners who Fallon has gone into business with undoubtedly will put their own stamp on the agency, "the underlying values have to be cohesive," said Mr. Fallon.

As for Wieden, "One of our goals is not to be another London agency; there are enough of those," said Creative Director Susan Hoffman, who moved to the U.K. from Portland six months ago, when the office opened.


"We want to combine the English and the Wieden & Kennedy way," she noted, since "we do a form of advertising that is unique in the U.S."

Ms. Hoffman is running the office with Managing Director Mike Perry, the former account director on Nike at TBWA Simons Palmer, where the account was housed before April.

Wieden also recently announced that it has ended its joint-venture operation in Tokyo with McCann-Erickson Worldwide, and will open an office in that city to service Nike in Asia.

While Wieden's U.K. opening has been low-key, Fallon moved in a much more visible manner.

The agency won the Lee European account back in the spring, before it had even announced key personnel. It did that months later, with the disclosure that Michael Wall and Robert Senior-respectively, former account and client services directors at TBWA Simons Palmer-and Laurence Green, former deputy planning director at Lowe Howard-Spink, had signed on as founding partners of Fallon's London office.


Last month came the announcement that it had signed on one of the hottest creative teams in town, from BMP DDB Needham: Andy McLeod and Richard Flintham.

The officers are blunt about their goals: "This is not a spoke to service the hub in Minneapolis," Mr. Senior said. "We're not [like] Dan Wieden's outpost; we're a start-up."

Added Mr. McLeod, "We're so not a satellite office. We're an agency with the backing of a great agency, with all the ethos and values of that. But here we can do it for ourselves in London."

The Fallon McElligott office has been described as a joint venture between the fivesome and Fallon. Mr. Fallon would not detail the ownership structure, other than to say it will provide the partners with the opportunity to "take advantage of the promise of the brand and the resources of the agency" while still allowing them "to put their fingerprint on it."

The agency intends to imbue its new U.K. cousins with a dose of its Minneapolis value structure via regular trans-Atlantic exchanges. And that's something Ms. Hoffman at Wieden feels is important to do as well.


"That's why I'm here," Ms. Hoffman said about the agency's efforts to export a dose of its storied Portland culture to its London digs.

Both she and Mr. Perry said the agency is now geared more toward sharing resources between offices, and that currently she encourages as much exchange as possible between London and Portland.

She said the agency intends to cycle people through London much as it did with its Amsterdam office, and that President Dan Wieden has made several visits already.

Mr. Senior's comment notwithstanding, Ms. Hoffman said Wieden has the objective of being a full agency in its own right, and is beginning to work on efforts geared toward winning new business. And Mr. Hegarty is one who doesn't buy the argument that these agencies are just there to handle U.S.-based business.

"We'd argue that they're opening on a point of principle" and not just because of one client, he said.

The British recruits of these shops see their arrival as reflective of a shift in the nature of the U.K. ad scene, toward a new openness.


"A massive change is taking place," said Mr. Perry, echoing the comments of other ad professionals in the city. "The whole market is opening up, not just to the notion of American hot shops here, but also to moving away from traditional ad agencies to new communications approaches."

Mr. Perry joined his Fallon McElligott peers in citing the success St. Luke's and Mother, two London shops that have championed unorthodox approaches to managing marketing communications.

"It's a much more interesting and varied marketplace, from a client's point of view," Mr. Wall said.

Further, the arrival of these creative powerhouses "says to me that London is establishing itself as the premier city for advertising in the world," said David Smith, marketing director for VF Europe, based in Brussels. While New York is still the epicenter of North American advertising, London has become "the place to be."


Mr. Smith believes both Wieden and Fallon will discover that clients are not only interested in their capabilities, but familiar with their product.

"The client community is becoming as global as the agency community is," he noted. "A lot of clients are seeing work from around the world and reading the international trades, so the reputations of agencies like this precede them."

"There's an aura of respect for American agencies and marketing approaches over the past few years," said Mr. Wall.

Citing the performance at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes of San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Boston-based Arnold Communications, he said: "American work has been much more visible here, thanks to the shows."

Still, the new-business picture for both of the new London shops is unclear. Wieden's Mr. Perry said the agency promised Nike that it would not pursue any new accounts in London for six months. But that time is now up.

The Fallon partners said they had been contacted by a number of prospects, though they declined to name them.


"While I think there's a lot of respect for Fallon and Wieden, right now it's a wait-and-see attitude," said Graham Bednash, of Michaelides & Bednash, a media strategy company in London that has been compared to St. Luke's and Mother as an example of progressive trends in U.K. advertising.

The agency community in London, however, seems to be on their side as they search for additional, interesting business.

"It would be dull if they simply became formatted versions of what already exists in the U.S.," said Mr. Law.

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