FCB San Francisco, Amazon Part Ways

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FCB San Francisco, a subsidiary of True North Communications Inc., has resigned the Amazon.com account, valued by industry observers at $30 million to $37 million.

In a statement, FCB blamed the sudden decision on "fundamental differences" with the Internet's largest retailer over its plans for 2001. The agency declined to participate in a review Amazon plans to undertake to inject new branding and marketing ideas.

"We are proud of our association with Amazon.com and stand by the world-class advertising we have produced for them," Simon Bolton, president/CEO of FCB San Francisco, said in the statement. "This is, however, a fitting point to end our relationship."

FCB's relationship with the Seattle retailer will formally end in first-quarter 2001, after nearly four years under the agency's stewardship.

Concurrent with FCB's departure is the decision by Amazon to sack agencies for four countries in which it operates. The agencies are Hakuhodo in Japan, Ailleurs Exactment in France, HHCL & Partners in Britain and I-start in Germany.

Amazon now is looking for an international agency that can offer global branding and local, on-the-ground marketing.

Part of FCB Worldwide, FCB San Francisco has clients such as Tricon Global Restaurants Inc. for Taco Bell, Levi Strauss & Co.'s Dockers brand and Compaq Computer Corp. FCB San Francisco this year alone won accounts worth nearly $500 million in billings.

The 127-year-old FCB Worldwide is the No. 1 agency in the United States, with billings of $5.5 billion. Worldwide billings last year were $8.9 billion.

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