True North Communications' flagship FCB Worldwide ad agency is swallowing sister company Bozell Worldwide's overseas offices, along with the latter's Detroit and Costa Mesa, Calif., offices, to become the fifth-biggest agency globally.

The disclosure Thursday of this restructuring within publicly held True North capped a few weeks of concern among employees of Bozell, including advertising staffers in its Chicago office, who thought the agency might be absorbed after news leaked out that the parent was contemplating pulling everything together under the FCB banner. Such a move would have meant layoffs.

There will, indeed, be some jobs eliminated in those Bozell offices affected by the integration. With overall U.S. billing of $5 billion, FCB says it's No. 1 in this country. FCB Worldwide says its $8.2 billion annual billing makes it No. 5 in the world.

FCB Worldwide, the new shortened identity for Foote, Cone & Belding, trails McCann-Erickson Worldwide ($13.6 billion), Japan's Dentsu ($13 billion), BBDO Worldwide ($10.9 billion), and Young & Rubicam ($9.3 billion), all 1998 billing, according to Advertising Age.

In absorbing certain Bozell offices and creating a new Bozell U.S. operation, parent True North avoids at least one major conflict. That is, Chase Manhattan will remain a client of FCB New York, and Bozell, also Manhattan, continues on Bank of America.

Bozell's Detroit office, soon to be called FCB, is the big plum in this True North makeover. FCB Detroit has DaimlerChrysler as its primary client; FCB will pick up Chrysler work in other parts of the world as well.

FCB and its predecessor agencies have never had an office in Detroit.

Chicago-based True North, whose CEO David Bell maintains offices here as well as New York, said it will take a pretax restructuring charge of $65 million to $75 million in the third quarter to cover expenses as part of the formation of the "new" FCB.

But True North said administrative and operating efficiencies in the merger will result in annualized savings of about $25 million, or 25 cents a share.

Wall Street approved of the streamlining of True North, as its stock Thursday rose 75 cents to $33.37 a share; the 52-week high was $34.12 versus the low of $18.81.

Brendan Ryan, who had been chairman-CEO of Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, keeps the title for the new FCB Worldwide. Leo-Arthur Kelmenson, former chairman-CEO of Bozell Worldwide, who has had very close ties to Chrysler, becomes chairman of FCB Worldwide. Both are in New York. Ron Bess continues as president of FCB Worldwide; he's based in Chicago.

Gene Bartley becomes president of Bozell, the new domestic agency, which besides New York and Chicago has offices in 11 other cities and includes free-standing agencies under other names, has total billings of $1.5 billion.

Whirlpool for Publicis-Riney: Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool Corp. assigned U.S. advertising for its Whirlpool-brand appliances to Publicis Group, whose Publicis & Hal Riney Chicago office becomes the lead agency on what was a $30 million-plus account in 1998. Publicis, which handles Whirlpool advertising globally, succeeds Campbell Ewald, in Warren, Mich., which had the client in the U.S. since mid-1995. Ayer New York is agency for Whirlpool's KitchenAid line. Nick Mote, the London-based Publicis worldwide account director on Whirlpool, will relocate to Riney's office here. Mote will be building a Publicis team here to service Whirlpool, though Riney's existing Chicago staff will have input as well.

Travis picks Meredith: Donnita Meredith, executive vice president-director of account management at Chicago-based Arian, Lowe & Travis, was named president. She assumes the post from Daryl Travis, who became chief executive. Also, Donald M. Lyons, recently manager of the Gucci store in New Orleans and previously head of the retailer's unit in the Houston Galleria, became manager of Gucci's Michigan Avenue store.

Strictly Personal: Birthday greetings to Deborah M. Pimsner 30; Dave Vermylen, 49 (Keebler); F. Terrence "Terry" Blanchard, 46; Sid Liebenson, 48 (DraftDirect); Beth Knight, 37 (DDB Chicago); Harvey Wittenberg, 62; Ed Schultz, 61 (March of Dimes); Larry Bralich, 48; Julie Hitchins, 43; Steve Polydoris, 45 (Real Estate News); and Dick Braido, 52 (Saks).

– Leo Burnett's Starcom Media Services unit picked up media planning for Delta Airlines' global ad account, for which Burnett was assigned creative responsibility. Zenith Media Services in New York continues Delta media buying.

By: George Lazarus / From: CHICAGO TRIBUNE

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