Steve Harty Exits BBH

Move Comes Months After Taking Group Chairman Spot

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Steve Harty, North America group chairman for Bartle Bogle Hegarty, is leaving the agency after five years at the Publicis Groupe-backed shop.

Steve Harty
Steve Harty
He was hired by BBH in 2005 as chairman of the New York office to raise the agency's profile. Prior to that, he co-founded and served as CEO at Merkley Newman Harty, which became Omnicom Group's Merkley & Partners, and also spent over a decade at Ogilvy & Mather.

Mr. Harty's departure -- which takes effect in mid-August -- comes only months after the executive shifted into the group-chairman post amidst a management rejiggering that gave him oversight of all Bartle Bogle properties in North America, including BBH, New York, and brand-creation arm Zag.

At the time, Mr. Harty was charged with creating offerings in areas such as digital production and engagement planning, as well as growth by acquisition of marketing-communications companies.

That plan appears to have been ditched shortly after General Motors' new top marketer, Joel Ewanick, in June yanked the $270 million Cadillac account from BBH, New York, and parked it at Fallon.

In a statement, the London-based agency said: "In current market conditions, BBH global management has decided that its immediate priority is to focus on strengthening the integrated agency offering through organic growth and continued partnerships. Having developed a more acquisition-focused approach to building the agency of the future, Steve is naturally enthusiastic to see that approach and vision realized, and, as a consequence, has decided to leave BBH in order to pursue it elsewhere."

Mr. Harty told AdAge: "I've been leading and managing agencies for 21 years and have a clear vision of what a successful integrated agency could look like in today's fast-changing world. It's a complex challenge, and the first question is not just how to get there but also, importantly, how fast. Putting all the pieces together -- creatively, operationally and culturally -- is hard, but also a fascinating leadership opportunity and a chance for real innovation. In the short term, I'll be consulting on this topic and see where it leads."

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