Interpublic is trying to close the door on an eight-year car crash by dumping the ‘fcb’ bit of Chicago-based network Draftfcb and reverting to the name FCB, shorthand for Foote Cone & Belding, one of the original aristocrats of Madison Avenue.
The two agencies were lumped together in 2006 when IPG bought Howard Draft’s big direct marketing agency Draft.
The merger was quite clearly a case of one plus one makes one-and-a-half at best (which is often the case with mergers in any industry) and is the culmination of new CEO Carter Murray’s attempt to revive the one-time Chicago behemoth. Draftfcb has lost SC Johnson, Kraft and MillerCoors over the past 18 months or so, severely denting its status as the number two IPG global network to McCann.
Even so, the naming bit is not that clear. FCB HQ will be called FCB Chicago, its office in New York will be FCB Garfinkel, to mark the presence of new creative director Lee Garfinkel (left), and its London office will be FCB Inferno, to mark its recent buy of creative agency Inferno. Some agencies will be called FCB Health if healthcare is where most of their business resides, which sounds a bit messy. And what happens if Lee Garfinkel tires of FCB, or it of him?
FCB used to be a big player in the UK back in the day, famous for its British Airways campaign ‘We Take More Care Of You,’ which was one of those iconic airline campaigns from the Sixties and Seventies that have, probably, never been improved on. But flying a scheduled airline was a luxury in those days.
But FCB, then independent, never overcame the shock when new BA boss Lord King, one of Mrs Thatcher’s favourite businessmen and a bit of a thug, ripped the account away and gave it to upstarts Saatchi & Saatchi. BA is currently reviewing its account out of BBH, with BBH and digital box of tricks SapientNitro pitching.
Anyway, back to FCB in the US. New boss Murray has admitted that FCB may have to settle for life as a national rather than international force. Which may be the fate that awaits owner Interpublic too.