The Call Sheet: 12.11.06

In compiling our cover story for this issue, we came across a pair of holiday campaigns, one from DDB Chicago and the other from Bernstein-Rein (Kansas City). The campaigns, for JCPenney and Wal-Mart respectively, represent creative achievements for the agencies and production partners that worked on them. They also share the unfortunate distinction of being the last television campaigns before those clients move to other agencies in 2007.The confusing part is that these clients are leaving their longtime agency partners following sustained runs of prosperity. Bernstein-Rein used groundbreaking work to help Wal-Mart grow from 72 stores to more than 3,800 and DDB Chicago created a string of engaging, creative campaigns that made a sizeable impact to JCPenney’s bottom line.The clients themselves also acknowledge the accomplishments of their soon-to-be-former agencies. “DDB was with us for six years and they were a huge part of our turnaround,” says JCPenney spokesperson Kate Parkhouse. “It wasn’t anything that DDB did. It was just time for a change.”The need for change is something that was expressed by both departing clients, who scratched their itch by finding new agencies with radically new approaches. Penney’s, for one, fell hard for “Lovemarks,” the brainchild of Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts, which promises to take marketers beyond branding and into a whole new realm of customer loyalty. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, selected DraftFCB, a newly merged agency that promises to combine creative advertising services and market research in one integrated package.The only problem is that, in both cases, the existing marketing programs had proven to be effective and compelling. Given the track record of DDB and Bernstein-Rein, one might ask, “What else does an agency need to do?” And if stellar track records like those compiled by these two agencies can’t ensure client loyalty, then what does that portend for the regional production community, which thrives in large part due to its support of commercial production?Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office, believes the uncertainty is part of a larger upheaval in the ad industry, and that the production community has to remain nimble enough to stay ahead of the curve. “I feel a strong need to be working closer with advertising agencies in terms of how we can serve them,” says Moskal. “They’re going to be at the forefront of a lot of decision-making.”One of the most significant changes in the industry is the continuing shift from creative advertising to bottom-line marketing, according to Tom Duff, president of both Optimus and the Chicago chapter of the Association of Independent Creative Editors. “Money is always there – let’s face it, we’re a business,” says Duff, “but I think money drives it more than ever.”And while Duff says clients and agencies aren’t likely to enjoy the same types of relationships they have in the past, he notes a tremendous opportunity for anyone willing to get creative about the way they pursue business. How it will all sort out is anyone’s guess, but it should make for an interesting 2007.