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We Hear…

We Hear: The North Face Business in Review

The North Face is making a big push to expand its brand. At the end of October, the company launched a new campaign called “Your Land,” its most expensive marketing effort to date; now a source tells us that it might have opened an agency review as well.

First, the spot created by Mekanism (with web experience designed by Colorado’s Factory Design Labs), which will make its TV debut during this week’s edition of Sunday Night Football:

For the record, we really hope the surfer in this spot wasn’t trying to bring his board on the L train at rush hour.

We know that North Face chose Factory Design Labs as its AOR in 2007 and that Mekanism took over the TV portion of the account recently, hence the credits on this new campaign (which has earned coverage in Fast Company, The New York Times, and other pubs).

A source tells us that, as part of this new initiative — which sees the company increasing its marketing spend by 50 percent – the rest of The North Face business is currently in review.

We’ve yet to receive confirmation or information about which agencies might be involved. Updates when they come in and credits for the ad above after the jump via Adhugger.

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We Hear: Big Changes Coming to DDB New York

ddb NY logo

Today we received word of some big changes brewing at DDB New York.

The first hint came in June when the agency hired Chris Brown, who had been CEO of DDB Group Australia since 2012, to run its New York office. (Peter Hempel, CEO of DDB NY since 2005, is now chief executive of the larger DDB Group.)

Since then, DDB NY won the Iams and Eukanuba pet food brands accounts and began planning its larger restructuring; the biggest announcement in the near future will be the hiring of a new chief creative officer to lead the office’s newest incarnation. We don’t know exactly when the news will drop, but the change is coming — this yet-to-be-named CCO will aim to make the most of DDB New York’s existing talent while pushing for new business.

In the meantime, however, “restructuring” unfortunately means downsizing. Today the agency let what we believe to be a small percentage of its New York staffers go in the interest of better aligning its team with the coming changes.

We hear that DDB’s shift will include more leadership moves and that its long-term goal is to create a more efficient operation in Manhattan to better serve both current and future clients (while pitching some new business that might not have been considered in the past). No word on which departments were hit hardest today.

In short, expect significant announcements from DDB in the coming days and weeks. Updates when we receive them.

We Hear: CarMax Shopping for a New Agency

This week we received a few tips claiming that CarMax — used car retailer, Fortune 500 company, buyer of Super Bowl ad spots — might be shopping around for a new agency.

Silver + Partners (formerly Amalgamated, in which DDB vet Eric Silver bought a controlling stake) has counted CarMax as a client for several years, most recently earning extensive media attention for the “Slow Clap” spot that aired during the last Super Bowl.

Yes, there was a puppy version. The campaign marked an extremely successful return to Super Bowl ads for CarMax, which sat out the big game for two years. It also prompted calls by consumer groups for the FTC to sue the company for false advertising, but there have been no updates on those claims since June.

Our sources claim that Silver + Partners will not be working on this year’s CarMax Super Bowl spot and that the company may be looking for a new creative AOR; we’ve received no comment from the agency after repeated requests.

(On a side note, CarMax was the first brand to abandon the L.A. Clippers in the wake of Donald Sterling’s infamous time in the media spotlight this spring.)

We Hear: Staffing Changes at VB&P, DDB, and Union Creative

intel-logoSpeaking of layoffs, we’ve received quite a few tips about staffing changes this week. First, we hear that Intel’s agency review, which started in August and ended with a win for mcgarrybowen two weeks ago, led to layoffs at Venables Bell & Partners. (VB&P won the business in January 2009.)

We reached out to the agency but have yet to receive a response, so we have no specifics on who was (allegedly) let go.

Second, we can confirm that DDB lost its CIO earlier this week.

Here’s the internal memo:

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We Hear: 7-Eleven Looking for a Change


7-Eleven, the chain beloved of Middle Americans everywhere, signed with Dallas-based TracyLocke back in 2002.

Since then, the brand has gotten ambitious: first their outlets started replacing all the Brooklyn delis where we buy our horny goat weed, then they decided to start sponsoring startups.

Now we hear that they might be looking for a new ad agency as well. A tipster claims that this week the agency received notice that 7-Eleven would not be renewing its contract in 2015.

TracyLocke won the business after GSD&M resigned more than a decade ago, and now it appears that the brand is looking for a change on the creative and marketing fronts. While we haven’t received confirmation on this tip, our last two posts about the departure of one CEO and the hiring of another were 100 percent accurate.

In 2002, 7-Eleven was estimated to be a $30M account; that number is certainly larger now.

We Hear: West Hired Someone As Its New CCO


Someone really wants us to keep posting on West, the San Francisco-based agency that refuses to respond to anything resembling a press query.

First, we went over TechCrunch’s unenthusiastic review of the agency’s homepage. Then we heard that West had lost a large chunk of its business (the agency and the other contacts that our readers suggested did not respond to our requests for more information).

We heard that various executives who had left the agency were doing well with their own ventures. This is not really news.

Over the last week or so, however, we have received conflicting tips about the newest top creative executive at West.

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We Hear: Kit Kat Planning Agency Review?


Today in tips that are not likely to be true, someone tells us that Kit Kat has begun a UK agency review that will “probably” go global.

Three reasons we don’t put too much faith in this tip:

1) JWT has been Kit Kat’s AOR for some time (except in the US, where the candy is produced by Hershey rather than Nestle). In fact, just a week ago JWT Amsterdam released the “Give Holland a Break” campaign.

2) The agency’s spot “Break From Gravity,” which hit two years ago, got more attention than any other recent Kit Kat ad.

3) This is now officially the most popular “brand tweet” ever with more than twice as many favorites and nearly twice as many retweets as the 360i Oreo one that you still hear about all the time. And JWT London did it.

That work alone made us devote more of our attention to Kit Kat than we have in years, so there wouldn’t be much reason for the brand to review its creative agency at this point, would there?

UPDATE: we got a “we don’t comment on speculation” from Nestle communications in Europe, and our PR translator tells us that this phrase almost always means that we’re onto something. So JWT might have to defend its business after all.

UPDATE to the update: we got a follow-up from the team this morning to clarify that this rumor is not true. Sorry, MediaPost.

We Hear: Cuts at Translation


This morning we got a tip about some big changes at Steve Stoute‘s Translation.

Specifically, the tip claimed that President Nils Peyron and ECDs Marc d’Avignon and Jay Berry are no longer with the agency.

None of the three have been with Translation for more than a few months: Peyron, a former account leader at McCann and Ogilvy, joined in February and earned an Adweek writeup in the process; he filled a post that had been vacant since November 2012. At the same time, the agency hired former top Chiat creative John Norman to fill the CCO role. Norman then facilitated the hiring of Berry and d’Avignon, who had worked with him at W+K Portland from 2005 to 2008.

Translation produced a couple of spots for Champs Sports this summer, and all three of the names in question appear in the credits.

We did not receive a confirmation or statement from the agency, but we did score a “no comment…”

Infiniti May Have Chosen CP&B


Someone wants the trade press to know that Infiniti will sign with CP&B.

A source told AdAge this morning that the competition is all over, “although a final contract has not yet been signed.”

Way back in July we established the fact that TBWA would not retain the account and that the initial pitch involved seven agencies; a September report claiming that CP&B and GS&P were the last two parties standing preceded a slew of tips insisting that CP&B would be the winner. That happened exactly one month ago — and now it seems that the “source” has succeeded again in planting the story.

Of course CP+B has yet to comment, because no agency can confirm such reports before the official statement is drafted with the client’s approval.

But we have to wonder who has been trying so hard to leak this news — and why the announcement has been delayed so long when our readers told us that the decision had already been made a month ago.

We Hear: West Loses Some Business

Last month we reviewed TechCrunch’s review of the homepage of West, the San Francisco ad agency co-founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. The general consensus: it didn’t show or tell us much of anything at all.

This week, we’ve received a few anonymous notes about the state of things at West and, like the vast majority of the tips we receive here every day, they weren’t particularly positive.

We’re still waiting to receive a word from the people behind the rotating images on the West homepage, but our tipsters tell us that several tech clients no longer count West as their AOR.

Specifically, this claim applies to tumblr, Rdio and Jawbone. We can’t confirm that these clients are no longer with West because we can’t confirm much of anything about the agency at the moment. But we did find some work apparently commissioned by West for photographer Todd Cole:

jawbone ad west

(There’s an unembeddable video for the “Make Life Easier” campaign here.)

We’re still waiting to hear from whoever monitors the agency’s given email address. Also: apologies, on Google’s behalf, to West Advertising of Alameda.