"I'm proud of my three years at CFP and the work we did to reposition the agency as an integrated idea agency," Mr. McLelland said in an e-mail. "The clients gained and the changes made have hopefully positioned the agency for the future. I regret I won't be there to finish the task at hand."
He added: "I learned a great deal, and while disappointed, it's Cliff's agency and decision. I wish him and the agency well." Mr. Freeman is chairman and chief creative officer of the eponymous agency.
Mr. McLelland joined the MDC Partners agency in 2005 after stints at a range of creative shops from Cliff Freeman sibling Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners to Havas' Euro RSGG and WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, where he served as a senior partner and managing director.
He was the first CEO appointed at New York-based Cliff Freeman, which is agency of record for Quiznos and Baskin-Robbins. Last month, it lost its key Snapple account to Deutsch, Los Angeles, part of Interpublic Group of Cos.
UPDATE: After this story was posted, the agency issued a statement announcing Clayton F. Ruebensaal III as its new CEO, starting Dec. 1.
Mr. Ruebensaal is exec VP-senior account director at Omnicom Group's BBDO, New York, leading the Sony and The Economist accounts.
"Clayton's unique background in strategy and management will impact our client's business immediately," Mr. Freeman said in the statement. "That's what we looked for and that's what we got."