One Less Lovemark for Kevin Roberts

Tony Granger Decamps for Y&R as Saatchi Loses Another Top Creative

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Tony Granger's departure from Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, to take a senior global role at WPP Group's Young & Rubicam shocked Saatchi executives as much as it did the ad industry at large.
Tony Granger
Tony Granger

After all, it was only last week that Mr. Granger took the stage -- albeit sheepishly -- at the downtown restaurant Cipriani Wall Street to accept a New York Ten 2007 Best Executive Team prize that rewards "extraordinary leadership and innovation to improve their business."

A reason for the sheepishness?
But when he got to the stage, he let Mary Baglivo, the CEO of the Publicis Groupe agency's New York office and worldwide marketing director, do most of the talking. Perhaps it was just his reserved personality, but Mr. Granger's sheepishness could now perhaps be chalked up to knowing he would soon reveal to Saatchi that he would be leaving as chief creative officer to join Y&R as worldwide creative director, a move first reported by Advertising Age sibling Creativity-online.com.

Mr. Granger declined to comment, citing current contract obligations at Saatchi. A representative for Saatchi declined to comment. Ms. Baglivo started at Saatchi on the same day in October 2004 as Mr. Granger after being tapped by Chairman-CEO Kevin Roberts to perform a much-needed turnaround; she could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Granger, who previously served as executive creative director of Saatchi, London, and has held positions at TBWA, Grey and Bozell, won't be leaving without some definite notches in his belt. He helped revitalize and bring in plum accounts, such as Wendy's and J.C. Penney, to the New York agency's roster.

His hire, by Y&R Global CEO Hamish McLennan, comes as Mr. McLennan attempts to breathe much-needed life into the network by bolstering its senior management team. Earlier this year, he tapped Mitch Kaplan as chief marketing officer, North America, and Tarik Sedky as chief digital officer.

'A dynamic creative leader'
"Putting in a dynamic creative leader tops off everything we have been working towards. ... We need creative excellence on all fronts, and Tony is the ideal person to get us there," Mr. McLennan said in a statement.

Incidentally, Mr. Granger isn't the only defecting from Saatchi to WPP; Jan Jacobs and Leo Premutico, former Saatchi executive creative directors, have set up their own shop, Johannes Leonardo, in New York with the backing of WPP.

The moves complicate a decision on the creative portion of Hotels.com's $60 million to $70 million account, currently in review. The finalists in that pitch are Saatchi, New York; Y&R, Chicago, and Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day. News of a winner was widely expected this week.

"We are still in the process of evaluating all the creative ideas that were shared last week by all three agencies in the pitch and have not made any final decisions as of yet. I anticipate we will be ready to announce our decision within a week or two," Vic Walia, senior director-brand marketing for Hotels.com, said in an e-mail. He said he had "no additional comment on Tony's decision to leave Saatchi & Saatchi at this time, but I do wish him success in his future role."

Hotels.com last month selected TargetCast to handle media duties on the account.
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