These are not the best of times at DraftFCB/Chicago. The loss of the $1 billion S.C. Johnson account after nearly 60 years has prompted the layoff of 10 percent of DraftFCB/Chicago’s staff, which translates into about 100 positions.
With all the blaring headlines about the bloodletting in recent days, DraftFCB now must deal quickly and effectively with the real image problem that almost inevitably arises when any shop loses a major account, especially one that has been around as long as S.C. Johnson.
But another matter related to the S.C. Johnson account shift has been mostly lost in the shuffle since late July when the news first broke. That is, the future plans of Mark Modesto, the once powerful DraftFCB exec who was abruptly cut loose from the agency a year ago.
Now that Modesto’s noncompete clause is expected to expire this month, the question remains: Where will he show up post-DraftFCB?
A position with the client would be an ideal situation
We’ve talked to sources and boiled it all down to come up with one possible scenario involving Modesto that makes a lot of sense.
Now that the S.C. Johnson business has been split between two shops, Ogilvy & Mather and Energy BBDO, instead of the one agency (Ogilvy) that many observers were expecting, it seems more unlikely Modesto would attach himself to one of those two shops.
Rather, it would make far more sense for him to take a position on the client side at S.C. Johnson, where he is said to be extremely close to key members of the Johnson clan.
At S.C. Johnson, he would be ideally situated to oversee the entire global marketing game plan involving both ad shops now on the S.C. Johnson agency roster.
Nobody knows the S.C. Johnson business better than Modesto, and he would have the total support of top members of the Johnson family.
And let’s not forget another key figure here, Mark Pacchini, who worked side-by-side with Modesto at DraftFCB and took over the S.C. Johnson account after Modesto’s ouster. Pacchini could very well wind up working alongside his buddy, if the S.C. Johnson headquarters is indeed where Modesto lands.
Right now, though, it is just a scenario that has certainly not played out, but it could.
Above all, how will Draftfcb repair its battered image?
Meanwhile, DraftFCB/Chicago needs to focus on trying to counter the huge S.C. Johnson loss with an aggressive, clever public relations effort (the kind of effort all too lacking in almost every Chicago advertising agency, especially when big, bad news hits) to help buttress the shop’s now battered image.
All agencies are filled with interesting stories that go beyond this or that new staffer and this or that account win or loss (yada, yada, yada). This is the time when a smart PR campaign could demonstrate that DraftFCB/Chicago might still have some life left in it.
Sadly, we recall how JWT/Chicago went into a tailspin after Kraft Foods pulled out huge chunks of business, and no one seemed to lift a finger to do much in the way of public relations damage control. Now JWT is all but dead in Chicago.
We would hate to see history repeat itself.
Contact Lewis Lazare at LewisL3@aol.com