437 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10022
Telephone: (212) 415-3600
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Gross Billings: $2.64 billion (1996)
Stock Exchanges: New York
SICs: 7311 Advertising Agencies; 6719 Holding Companies, Not Elsewhere Classified
Omnicom is a truly global company. We have offices in 85 countries. Nearly half of our revenue is from outside North America. And we're also diversified in other ways. In 1996 our advertising revenues from BBDO Worldwide, DDB Needham Worldwide, TBWA International and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners represented approximately 60 percent of our revenue. Revenue from our specialty advertising and marketing service companies accounted for the remaining 40 percent. Both advertising and marketing services activities are geographically balanced with one-half of revenues coming from North America and one-half from the rest of the world. The diversification of our services and our geographic balance means our revenues are far less dependent on the business cycles of any one country or line of business.
The second-largest advertising group in the world, Omnicom Group Inc. operates as the parent company for three separate, independent advertising networks: the BBDO Worldwide Network, the DDB Needham Worldwide Network, and the TBWA International Network. During the late 1990s, Omnicom also operated two independent agencies--Cline, Davis & Mann, and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners--and various marketing service and specialty advertising companies through its Diversified Agency services division. Omnicom was created in 1986 as a holding company, but its history stretched much further back, back to the influential role each of its three subsidiary agencies played in the growth and development of the U.S. advertising industry.
Origins of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn
BBDO was itself the product of a merger. In 1919 Bruce Barton, Roy Durstine, and Alex Osborn opened an advertising agency on West 45th Street in New York City. A few years later, as its business grew, Barton, Durstine & Osborn moved to the seventh floor of a building on 383 Madison Avenue. Three floors above BDO was another advertising agency, the George Batten Company. It seemed odd having competing firms sharing the same address, so a merger was proposed. On May 16, 1928 the George Batten Company joined with BDO to form Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn.
The most important man at the Batten agency was William Johns. Johns was more experienced and considerably older than Barton, Durstine, or Osborn. He was therefore made president of BBDO while the job of chairman went to Bruce Barton. Durstine was vice-president and general manager, and Osborn ran a separate BBDO office in his hometown of Buffalo, New York.
Bruce Barton was not a typical advertising man. In fact, he admitted on numerous occasions that he and the profession were not well suited. Barton was trained in theology and philosophy, attracted to politics, and committed to his personal writing projects. He wrote two extremely popular books, The Man Nobody Knew (a reappraisal of the life of Jesus Christ) and The Book Nobody Knew (a similar reappraisal of the Bible). Then, in the mid-1930s, Barton ran for Congress. He was elected and held office for two consecutive terms. In 1940 he ran for senator but lost by 400,000 votes. Barton was involved only in the creative aspects of BBDO's enterprises.
Durstine was the opposite of Barton. He was in love with the advertising business and what it could obtain for him. Like a number of other agency heads trying to make money during the Depression, Durstine's workaholism became self-destructive. He began drinking heavily, lost his wife and Long Island estate, and was forced to retire from BBDO in 1939.
The vacancy left by Durstine's departure caused some reshuffling of BBDO's management. William Johns by now was too old to handle the day to day operations of the agency. He was "promoted" to chairman, but relieved of all administrative duties. Osborn and Barton were then required to run the agency themselves.
The readjustment proved beneficial to the agency, for BBDO was in need of a new approach to its advertising. Osborn in particular was instrumental in reorganizing the agency and directing it toward the packaged goods advertising business. From the very beginning BBDO had primarily handled accounts for "institutional" clients such as Du Pont Chemical, Consolidated Edison, and Liberty Mutual. Although they were consistent customers, these companies neither needed nor wanted extensive advertising. If BBDO was going to grow rapidly enough to compete with large and established agencies, it would have to do advertising for packaged goods. Not only are new packaged goods constantly introduced to the market, but also those already on the shelves are always being improved to keep up with competing brands. In this environment advertising flourishes--that was Osborn's important insight.
Between 1939 and 1945 BBDO gained a number of important non-institutional accounts: Lever Brothers, B.F. Goodrich, Chrysler (Dodge Division), MJB Coffee, and the 3M Company. Not even the upheaval of World War II kept BBDO from growing. Billings increased from $20 million at the height of the Depression to $50 million at the end of the war.
In 1946 management changes again took place at BBDO. Ben Duffy, a veteran account man with the agency for over 15 years, was elected president; and Charlie Brower, who was to lead BBDO in the 1950s and 1960s, became executive vice-president in charge of copywriting. Duffy was an excellent salesman who could close a deal quickly. When Foote, Cone & Belding resigned the $11 million American Tobacco Company account in 1948, Duffy went directly to see American Tobacco's George Hill and secured the account after one meeting. In Duffy's 10 years at the helm of BBDO the agency increased its billings from $50 million to over $200 million.
Unfortunately for BBDO, Duffy was prone to ill health. In 1956 he suffered a stroke in Minneapolis while visiting the chairman of General Foods. He could not continue as the head of the agency, and Charlie Brower subsequently replaced him as president. Brower was the obvious choice. He had been in charge of the creative side of BBDO's advertising for over 20 years and was responsible for much of the agency's success.
Brower had a "no-nonsense" approach to advertising. He felt that as president of BBDO he had to do four things: 1) add one million dollars to the payroll; 2) hire talent from the outside; 3) fire many of his best friends; and 4) do away with company time clocks, which he thought made the agency a factory instead of a creative enterprise.
When Duffy retired there was confusion at BBDO, and a number of important clients quit the firm. In fact, until Charlie Brower established himself as president of the company no one was actually in charge. Revlon, a $6 million customer, canceled its account as soon as it heard of Duffy's retirement. Other clients followed Revlon's example. Brower did not allow this situation to continue for long. BBDO appeared headed toward disaster when Brower won for it the most lucrative account in its history--Pepsi Cola. Within a matter of weeks BBDO was financially healthy once again.
For BBDO the 1950s and early 1960s was a period marked by more than management readjustments and client shuffling. It was also a period in which BBDO became intimately and extensively involved in political advertising. Many agencies try to avoid producing campaigns for political movements and parties so that copywriters are not forced to sell opinions they themselves may not hold or to which they may be vehemently opposed. BBDO is one of the few firms that has accepted political advertising as a normal part of its business.
In 1948 BBDO ran its first ad campaign for a political candidate, Republican Thomas Dewey. Both candidate and agency lost this close election but, though Dewey left the political foreground, BBDO simply waited for the next election and a more marketable candidate. It found one in Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1952 BBDO signed the Republican National Committee as a regular account, and did the advertising in Eisenhower's successful bid for the presidency. The firm was hired again four years later to handle Eisenhower's re-election campaign. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, and Richard Nixon in particular, BBDO's success ended with Eisenhower. A BBDO makeup man was responsible for the "grey shave" look of Nixon's face in his 1960 televised presidential debate with John F. Kennedy.
Outside the political realm BBDO continued to expand and sign new clients. Not only did it increase the number of its institutional customers such as CBS Broadcasting (1959) and the SCM Corporation (1961), but also it won product-oriented accounts such as Tupperware (1959), Autolite (1961), McGregor Sporting Goods (1964), and Pepperidge Farm (1964). To match this domestic growth BBDO began to expand internationally for the first time in 1959, opening up offices in London, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt, and Vienna. In 1964 BBDO acquired the Atlanta-based firm of Burke Dowling Adams and with it the accounts of Delta Air Lines and the various governmental agencies of the state of Georgia. The Clyne Maxon firm of New York, with its $60 million in billings, was also merged with BBDO in 1966.
By the time of the worldwide recession during the 1970s, Charlie Brower had retired as president of BBDO. His successor was Tom Dillon, who had been the agency's treasurer since the late 1950s. Like most ad agencies BBDO suffered considerable losses in domestic billings during these years of economic stagnation. However, because of the way the company was structured, BBDO was able to endure this period without undue strain. By opening up offices in new places around the world, the agency entered advertising markets which had previously been closed to it. This international expansion served to offset losses incurred in the domestic market. In addition, BBDO began selling shares to the public in an effort to diffuse operating costs.
In 1976 Bruce Crawford was named president of BBDO. He had been head of the agency's foreign operations. During his eight-year tenure billings at BBDO tripled to $2.3 billion, and his cost management measures kept the company from misusing the benefits of this growth. As one analyst said of BBDO in 1981, "I've never seen a company so conscious of cost controls."
Crawford retired on March 31, 1985, and was succeeded by another able manager, Allen Rosenshine. Under his tutelage BBDO continued to expand by acquiring subsidiaries, creating for the agency a genuine worldwide network. It had traditionally been BBDO policy to allow local entrepreneurs the freedom to run their own offices, to encourage individuality and creativity. This practice came to an end under Rosenshine. A number of foreign and international clients expressed concern over these "local" shops. They thought there was too little direction coming from top management, and became wary of giving business to BBDO subsidiaries. To remedy the problem Rosenshine attempted to tighten the connections within the BBDO network and provide more centralized leadership.
That same year, BBDO and its various sub-agencies won a total of 530 awards for creativity. Most notable of these was the Grand Prix Gold Lion at the Cannes Film Festival. The trophy is presented to the agency which produces the year's best television commercial. The ad that won this coveted award was the "Archeology" commercial made for Pepsi Cola.
With BBDO such a large and vital member of the advertising industry, there was some question as to why it needed or wanted to join in a merger, particularly when the other two potential partners were currently experiencing financial difficulty. What did BBDO have to gain?
The answer was not hard to find. BBDO was one of the last major agencies to expand internationally, waiting until 1959. This late start proved to be a handicap and made BBDO's overseas growth uneven. For instance, BBDO was then the number one firm in Germany and the number two firm in Australia; but ranked 17th in Canada, 26th in France, and 29th in Britain (the most important European market.) The situation was complicated in 1985 by BBDO's being forced to sell its interest in a major South African subsidiary at a considerable loss. This divestiture led to a decrease in BBDO's international revenues of 94 percent and removed BBDO from the South African market where it had been the top agency. The merger with Needham and Doyle Dane Bernbach would provide BBDO with greater international presence, particularly in France, Canada, and Great Britain. According to the policy planning heads at BBDO, this improvement of the agency's foreign business was necessary for BBDO to maintain itself as a formidable worldwide advertising competitor.
Origins of Doyle Dane Bernbach
When those within the advertising industry are asked which agency most exemplifies innovation and creativity, one firm above all others is mentioned--Doyle Dane Bernbach. In the world of advertising, where imitation is the rule, the Doyle Dane Bernbach agency has made itself an exception. Most ad firms follow familiar schools of thought, but not Doyle Dane Bernbach. In the words of David Ogilvy, "They just sort of created an original school out of air."
In 1949 Ned Doyle and William Bernbach joined Maxwell Dane in the formation of a new advertising agency. Bernbach and Doyle had been trained at Grey Advertising, and Dane had owned his small ad company for a number of years. Doyle Dane Bernbach's first year billings came to just $500,000, but something about its advertising style suggested it would soon be a major force in the industry. It hired the most creative people it could find, no matter where they came from.
Among Max Dane, Ned Doyle, and Bill Bernbach there existed a well-defined division of labor. Doyle was the account executive in charge of winning and retaining clients; Dane took care of administration and financial matters; and Bernbach handled the creative concerns. Rarely did they cross into each other's designated spheres.
What made the firm unique in the ad industry was Bill Bernbach and his preoccupation with the "road not taken." Born in Brooklyn and educated in English and philosophy at New York University, Bernbach was the ad man's intellectual. His ideas were fresh, striking, and more often than not, couched in subtle humor. He sympathized with the public at large, which found most advertisements boring. His quest was to make ad campaigns exciting and fun while still focusing on the product's attributes. He had little reverence for research. He felt it substituted statistics for ideas and emotions. For him advertising was an art, and as an artist he was primarily concerned with imagery, impression, and point of view.
Bernbach was also a good teacher. He was patient, precise but gentle in his criticisms, and had the ability to nurture natural ability. His "students" formed the firm's Creative Team: a small group of copy writers, artists, art directors, and photographers that produced the agency's campaigns. Bernbach led the group but not in an authoritarian manner. It was what he called a "horizontal hierarchy." "We are all peers here," he said.
In the 1950s Doyle Dane Bernbach displayed its style of advertising in four notable campaigns for four near-unknown companies: Polaroid Cameras, Levy Bakery Goods, Ohrbach's Department Store, and El Al Israel Air Lines. These companies, like Doyle Dane Bernbach, were attempting to establish themselves in their respective markets. Polaroid was overshadowed by Kodak, Ohrbach's by Macy's, and few people had ever heard of Levy's Bread or El Al Air. To compensate for this lack of public recognition, the agency created strikingly different ads featuring everything from a cat dressed in a woman's hat to an American Indian claiming that "you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Levy's real Jewish rye." Not only did the campaigns sell large quantities of cameras, clothes, bread, and airline tickets, they sold Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising as well. In 1954 the Agency's billings were $8 million; by 1959 that figure had increased to $27.5 million.
In the early 1960s the agency won two new accounts that were to further enhance its reputation: Avis Car Rental Service and Volkswagen. In the rent-a-car business Hertz held the dominant market share. Far behind in second place, Avis wanted to increase its own market share. Most advertising is meant to portray the client in as favorable and strong a position as possible. Doyle Dane Bernbach, however, disregarded this tradition; its campaign stressed Avis's weak position vis-à-vis Hertz. "We're number two," said the ads, "We try harder. We have to." This strategy worked. In two years Avis increased its market share by over 25 percent.
The Volkswagen advertising campaign was a similar story. These small German cars were not what the American consumer wanted, or so it appeared. Again, Doyle Dane Bernbach converted a liability into a saleable asset. Hoping people had tired of the large and overly-embellished American-made cars of the 1950s, Doyle Dane Bernbach said simply: "Think small." The art of the ads was minimalist, usually showing a small picture of the car against a blank white backdrop. The text was equally odd. The short, simple copy was blocked in paragraphs that looked, in the words of copywriter Helmut Krone, "Gertrude Steiny." Not only did Americans purchase these "ugly" Volkswagens by the thousands, but the car became a symbol for an entire "non-conformist" generation.
Following these successes the agency won accounts from American Air Lines, Seagrams, International Silver, Heinz Ketchup, Sony, Uniroyal, Gillette, Bristol-Myers, and Mobil Oil. The 1960s were the golden age of advertising's "creative revolution," and Doyle Dane Bernbach was at the forefront of this movement.
As the 1960s gave way to the 1970s, the industry witnessed a return to conventional advertising techniques. This trend and the recession which plagued the beginning of the decade spelled trouble for the company. In 1970 Doyle Dane Bernbach lost the $20 million Alka-Seltzer account, even though the "that's a spicy meat-ball" commercial was extremely popular and a favorite of the critics. Other agency clients quickly followed Alka-Seltzer's lead. Lever Brothers, Whirlpool, Sara Lee, Quaker Oats, Cracker Jack, Uniroyal, and Life Cereal also canceled their accounts.
Fortunately for the agency, its growth during the 1960s provided it with enough revenue to absorb these losses, at least in the short run. Nonetheless, a company reorganization and reorientation was in order. In 1974 Neil A. Austrian joined the company as executive vice-president. He had expertise in the business aspects of advertising, something that had been missing at the agency. Gradually he transformed the company into a more orderly advertising network. Subsidiaries were acquired to strengthen Doyle Dane Bernbach's worldwide presence and offer more comprehensive client services. In 1975 the agency's billings rose for the first time in the new decade, and this trend continued for seven years.
On October 2, 1982, William Bernbach died of leukemia. His absence left a void at the agency. This raised a difficult question: Could Doyle Dane Bernbach continue without Bill Bernbach?
The question haunted the firm. In 1982 earnings fell 30 percent. This loss was compounded in the next two years by the resignation of important accounts. American Air Lines canceled its account in 1983. Its spot was filled by Pan Am which subsequently left the agency a few months later. Then, in 1984, Polaroid announced it would be taking its business elsewhere. The agency was particularly shocked by this resignation. Its commercials had helped make Polaroid the world's best-selling camera.
In the first half of 1986 Doyle Dane Bernbach was forced to lay off 24 staff members; it had lost almost $113 million in net earnings. The merger with BBDO and Needham Harper Worldwide represented a necessary business decision. It was doubtful that Doyle Dane Bernbach could continue if its fiscal situation were not improved. The security afforded by the Omnicom umbrella promised to relieve the agency of its financial difficulties, and allow it to concentrate on what it did best, namely, innovative advertising.
Origins of Needham Harper Worldwide
In 1924 Maurice Needham opened up his own advertising agency in Illinois. It was named The Maurice H. Needham Company. This title was changed in 1929 to Needham, Louis & Brorby, Inc. The firm then merged with Doherty, Clifford, Steers & Shenfield, Inc. in 1964 to become Needham, Harper & Steers. In 1984 the company name was again changed, this time to Needham Harper Worldwide.
As a Chicago-based agency, it traditionally avoided Madison Avenue type of advertising, and was generally considered to have stronger advertising presence in the Midwest than in the East. Until becoming part of Omnicom, Needham & Harper had not ranked among the largest worldwide agencies. However, this provincialism contributed to its success. Smaller companies, feeling neglected and disrespected by large advertising agencies, often turned to Needham & Harper. This type of client was the foundation of the firm's business.
In addition to that of Maurice Needham, the other name associated with the agency was that of Paul Harper. He came to the company in 1945 when it was Needham, Louis & Brorby. Harper had been educated at Yale and had spent four years in the Marine Corps fighting in the Pacific campaign. After his discharge, he walked into Needham's Chicago office looking for employment. He had no résumé, no writing experience, and no civilian clothes. Despite his scant qualifications Needham gave him a job as a copywriter, and soon Harper was making a name for himself in advertising. He worked primarily in broadcast advertising. Most notably, he produced commercials for Johnson's Wax on the "Fibber McGee and Molly" radio show.
As Harper became a man of greater importance at the agency he gradually moved from copywriter to manager. In 1964 he became president of the company and supervised the acquisition by Needham of Doherty, Clifford, Steers and Shenfield in 1965. At this time the name of the agency was changed to Needham, Harper & Steers. In 1967 he became chairman and chief executive officer of the agency, and retained this position until his retirement in 1984.
During the late 1950s and 1960s when companies were substantially increasing their expenditure on advertising, Needham, Harper & Steers, though still only a mid-size agency, grew along with the industry. It concentrated on smaller accounts but also retained a number of large Midwest clients, such as the Household Finance Corporation and the Oklahoma Oil Company. For the former it created the "Never borrow money needlessly" slogan; and for the latter it coined "Put a tiger in your tank."
In 1972 the firm followed the industry trend of publicly trading its shares. This move did not prove to be lucrative. Investors do not generally consider advertising to be a perennially stable business. More so than other industries, it is affected by the fluctuations of the economy. Smaller advertising firms are especially vulnerable and therefore pose higher risks to potential investors. Unlike the larger agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather and Interpublic, Needham, Harper & Steers was unsuccessful in drawing a strong investment interest. Four years after going public Needham & Harper "went private" again.
Although it serviced many small and mid-size accounts, Needham & Harper was primarily known for its "blue chip" clients. It won Xerox in 1968, McDonald's in 1970, Honda in 1977, and Sears in 1982. The agency produced the famous "Brother Dominic" commercials for Xerox, and the "you deserve a break today" slogan for McDonald's. Unfortunately for the agency, in 1984 McDonald's took its domestic business away from Needham and turned it over to Leo Burnett. The bad news continued in 1986, when Needham lost the $40 million Xerox account.
The merger with BBDO and Doyle Dane Bernbach would likely alter the "personality" of Needham Harper. Even though the three agencies intended to operate as separate divisions of Omnicom, there was more to the merger than a simple name change. Already clients expressed displeasure with the prospect of sharing the agency with competitors. The old conflict of interest problem became particularly pronounced when Campbell's Soup, a Needham and Harper client, would not stay with Omnicom if Heinz, a Doyle Dane Bernbach client, remained. Similar difficulties arose between Stroh's and Busch beer, and Honda and Volkswagen automobiles.
The most important question among Needham and Harper customers was whether they would continue to receive the same advertising attention to which they had been accustomed. "Fortunately," says one such client, "Keith Reinhard will still be around." Reinhard joined the firm in 1964, became president of NH&S/Chicago in 1980, chairman and CEO of NH&S/USA in 1982, and chairman and CEO of Needham Harper Worldwide in 1984. He impressed staffers, colleagues, and customers alike with his integrity and hard work. He maintained that the merger with Omnicom would help Needham attract and retain large clients, but claimed that the agency would not treat its smaller customers any differently than it had in the past. Reinhard also hoped Omnicom would restore to Needham a presence in the New York advertising market, something it had lacked since Xerox withdrew its account in 1986.
1986 Formation of Omnicom
When the final documents were signed and Omnicom was formally created, the task of making sense and profits out of the amalgamation fell to BBDO head Allen Rosenshine. As some had anticipated, the process of combining three competing agencies under one umbrella corporation was a tiresome and fitful chore, sparking further speculation about the prudence of the merger in the first place. Omnicom limped from the starting block. More than $40 million was spent on merger and restructuring-related costs, leaving the company essentially profitless for its first year. Several clients were wholly opposed to the merger, and expressed their displeasure by taking their business elsewhere, such as the immediate exit of RJR Nabisco. "As a client," RJR Nabisco's chairman icily remarked, "I see disruption, but little value. With very few exceptions, the wave of mergers has benefitted the shareholders and managers of the agencies." By the time the dust had settled after the merger, the three Omnicom agencies lost $184 million in billings that were directly attributable to the act of the merger itself.
The assimilation process did not get any easier after the end of 1986. When Omnicom's 1987 financial totals were announced, they were depressingly low. For the year, the company earned only $32 million from commissions and fees of $785 million, or 4.1 percent in what traditionally was a double-digit margin business. The year did have its highlights, however, including the gain of several large accounts. Omnicom agencies landed a U.S. Navy account, a large portion of new Pepsi business, including Slice soft drinks and Pizza Hut, and the account for NEC Home Electronics. In all, Omnicom registered $280 million in new business during 1987, but this was not enough to offset other difficulties. The merger was not delivering its desired and expected results, and this failure was beginning to wear on Rosenshine. In the spring of 1988, Rosenshine's dissatisfaction was readily discernible. "Right now, this is the most necessary job I can do," he told reporters. "But if I'm still doing it in two or three years, I don't think I'll be particularly thrilled."
Rosenshine was spared from having to endure a two- or three-year tenure by the return of Bruce Crawford, whose departure from BBDO in 1985 led him to the Metropolitan Opera Company. Crawford served as the Metropolitan Opera's general manager for three years, and then made his return to advertising as Omnicom's chief executive officer. Charged with directing and expediting the restructuring of Omnicom, Crawford took the helm in early 1989 and immediately began paring away superfluous managerial layers and divesting businesses. "With every merger," Crawford announced upon his return, "everybody talks about all these wonderful economies of scale, but it usually amounts to small potatoes. I believe the idea is to build businesses, not worry about the economies of scale to be realized by the joint buying of erasers. My belief is that the management structure is a little too complicated. I believe it is necessary to keep it simple, fast, and that corporate structure and overhead need to be minimized."
Omnicom in the 1990s
Crawford made good on his words, and divested a number of Omnicom businesses, while shuttering others. Concurrently, he developed a more concentrated presence in Britain and Europe, where Omnicom lagged behind other U.S.-based, international advertising agencies. By the beginning of the 1990s, Crawford's strategy was beginning to work wonders, and Omnicom, after a torpid start, was now demonstrating the vitality its creators had envisioned prior to the merger. Despite the effects of a stifling economic recession during the early 1990s, Omnicom registered robust financial gains. In 1991, revenues increased to $1.2 billion and profits grew consistently. This growth trend continued after the recession, when the company recorded an 18 percent increase in revenues to $2.3 billion in 1995 and a 26 percent gain in net income, to $140 million.
By the end of the mid-1990s, any lingering doubt about the prudence of the 1986 merger had been thoroughly washed away. Omnicom held sway as a powerful and creative force as the late 1990s began, with its three agency networks earning numerous prestigious awards and gaining much coveted, new clientele. BBDO, selected by Advertising Age International as "The Most Creative Agency Network" in the world in 1996, was awarded multinational accounts for Sara Lee, Mars, Visa, Pepsi, and Bayer. At the Cannes International Advertising Festival in 1996, DDB Needham won more awards than any other agency in the world, the fifth year during the previous six years that the agency had reigned supreme. New clients added to DDB Needham's roster during the year included L'eggs, CompuServe, Wells Fargo Bank, Clorox, Wilson Sporting Goods, Hamilton Beach, and Lockheed Martin. TBWA International's progress during 1996 bolstered Omnicom's global reach. New offices were opened in Latin America (Brazil, Chile, and Argentina), Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, China), Europe (Warsaw, Munich, Berlin, and Cyprus), and in Durban, South Africa, the agency's third South African office. TBWA also followed the pattern of success established by its sister agencies by winning an enviable list of new clients and earning recognition for its creativity. The agency's Nissan commercial was named the "Best of 1996" by Time, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone; new clients included Novartis and Canon in Europe, and Gramercy Picture and Sara Lee's Champion Sportswear in the United States.
On top of these three vibrant agencies stood Omnicom, selected in 1997 as Fortune magazine's most respected advertising group and ranked by the Wall Street Journal as number one in the advertising industry in terms of total return to shareholders. Amid the accolades and applause directed at its three subsidiary agency companies, Omnicom posted strong financial totals, registering a 26 percent gain in net income in 1996 to $176.3 million and an increase in revenues from $2.26 billion to $2.64 billion. Much of the credit for Omnicom's robust growth went to Crawford, who had made the concept of Omnicom work as a viable corporate entity. Crawford stepped down as chief executive officer in January 1997, naming John D. Wren as his successor, but continued to serve as chairman. To Wren fell the task of continuing Crawford's legacy of success and nurturing growth and creativity during Omnicom's second decade of business.
Principal Subsidiaries: BBDO Worldwide Inc.; DDB Needham Worldwide Inc.; Diversified Agency Services; Communicade.
Alden, Robert, "Bernbach's Advertising: A Formula Or Delicate Art?," New York Times, May 7, 1961.
Gleason, Mark, "Big Bang of '86 Is Still Shaping the Ad World," Advertising Age, April 22, 1996, p. 3.
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MacDougall, A. Kent, "Doyle Dane Bernbach: Ad Alley Upstart," Wall Street Journal, August 1965.
McCormack, Kevin, "Crawford Managing Omnicom Like the Met: Playing a Leaner Tune," ADWEEK Eastern Edition, January 15, 1990, p. 1.
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Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 22. St. James Press, 1998.