4As Speaker Calls on Holding Companies to Act

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DANA POINT, Calif. (AdAge.com) -- Hard hit West Coast advertising agencies are threatened with the loss
Photo: Ritz-Carlton
A dolphin fountain greets 4As members at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.
of their creative and entrepreneurial spirit and need help in the way of assignments from their East Coast cousins, a top ad executive told the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Management Conference on Friday.

Speaking on the last full day of conference events here, Chuck McBride, executive creative director, North America, for Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, noted that the health of West Coast shops is crucial to the future of the industry.

Confluence with Hollywood
Big holding companies' "West Coast partners need to be nurtured and strengthened" for a number of reasons," he said, "especially as the business moves to blending entertainment and advertising."

West Coast agency billings, at $7 billion for San Francisco and $8 billion for Los Angeles, are miniscule by comparison to New York's $52 billion.

"The West Coast is at a considerable

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deficit," said Mr. McBride, adding the dot-com bust and ailing technology sector is only further adding to the region's woes.

Pop culture skills
At the same time, West Coast creatives have produced "pop culture as opposed to nuts-and-bolts advertising," skills the industry will particularly need as it evolves into a combination of advertising and entertainment.

Mr. McBride, who has worked at leading agencies up and down the Coast, described Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, as storytellers, while Dan Wieden of Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., has a style "couched in passion."

He described Lee Clow as having a gift for "business intuition." Mr. Clow, he said, "lays track so creative people can follow it fairly well."

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