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Love those raisins
The agency that ad-man Daniel Lord founded in Chicago in 1873 as Sharp & Lord has grown throughout the 20th century into an international powerhouse. Through the years, FCB has developed some of advertising's most memorable campaigns and icons, like Clairol's "Does she or doesn't she?" and the California raisins. Today, FCB is the largest advertising agency in the country, and one of the five largest in the world. It is the primary subsidiary of True North Communications, which was launched as the agency's holding company in 1994. In September 1999, FCB Worldwide merged with parts of Bozell Worldwide (also a True North subsidiary) to create a strengthened agency with billings of over $8 billion and operations in 86 countries. The agency's San Francisco office was chosen as Ad Age's "Agency of the Year" for 1997, the first time in history that a single office of a large national agency was selected for the honor.
Bigger and bigger
In 1990, FCB initiated an alliance with Paris ad firm Publicis, forming the largest agency network in Europe. CEO Bruce Mason took the helm the following year, and began restructuring the agency. The company began purchasing outside agencies, and Mason created parent company True North in 1994. In 1997, True North acquired FCB's rival Bozell, Jacobs (famous for its celebrity milk moustache campaign), and Bozell's public relations/marketing division, BSMG Worldwide. The merger of two competing ad agencies under the same corporate tent initially caused some friction - FCB had to resign from its Mazda account because of a conflict with Bozell's Chrysler account - but today these agencies are both members of the happy True North family.
With the merger of FCB and parts of Bozell, the agency now boasts an even longer list of clients, including Alcon Laboratories, Inc., Amazon.com, AT&T, DaimlerChrysler, 3Com, John Deere, Lucent Technologies, and MarketWatch.com. The agency also handles pro bono work for the Office of National Drug Control policy, Religion in American Life, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, City Meals on Wheels, and Earthshare.
In October 1999, in an effort to improve efficiency, FCB underwent a reorganization which resulted in 820 lost jobs. FCB has since expanded, however. Acquisitions of Portuguese agency Edson Athayde Communicacao, and of Spanish agency Augusta BBT, have augmented FCB's European presence. Furthermore, in June 2000, the company combined its FCB Direct and FCB Digital divisions to form FCBi, which will be in charge of interactive customer management.
For jobs at the agency, send resumes and cover letters to the Human Resources contact noted below. FCB has a web site at www.fcb.com that includes contact information and an e-mail link.
A large percentage of entry-level applicants get in as assistant media planners. "They don't require much more than a college degree for those positions," says one insider, "but the bad news is the pay sucks."
Expect two or three rounds of interviews, starting with Human Resources, and eventually with a specific team. While "it's a pretty friendly interview process," sources remark that "it gets a tad more serious when you get down to meeting the people you'd be working for."
Young and fun
The "young, fun" employees at FCB Worldwide are "so laid-back it's not even funny." And they say FCB is one of the most progressive companies around. In the San Francisco office "you can wear anything you want," say insiders, assuming you're not meeting with a client. The West Coast outpost also has the Sega and MTV accounts, "so there are lots of games to be played," and "there are monitors all over the building playing MTV all day long." Which gives insiders a few ways to de-stress when they work late - "I've been here past midnight more times than I can count," one reports. Then again, "when there isn't a project happening, long lunches and early days are quite common." Other perks include company parties, free passes to movie premieres, and "lots of vacation." The pay agency-wide, says one employee, is "generally not that exciting." And because of that, there's high turnover. Most stay at an agency for one or two years, and move out to move up (and make more money).
Sources say women are well represented at FCB, "half the men here are gay," and no one cares what color you are. Good to know, but the fact remains that the ones running the company "are all white males." Insiders also report that while FCB puts a premium on talent and skill, it "seems like good-looking people are hired to be in contact with the client to give the agency a certain image."
The "creative, independent" FCB employees are glad to be a part of a "team-oriented," "micro-management-free environment." But they do point out that "deadlines are real, and clients' expectations must ultimately be catered to." This means long hours when necessary, though "no one person seems to shoulder the burden for any one account."
Senior Vice President Director of Personnel
150 East 42nd Street1
DDB Needham;Dentsu USA;DMB&B;Grey Advertising;Interpublic Group;Young & Rubicam
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