Just more than a year after Lee Daley was tapped as chief strategy officer of McCann Erickson Worldwide -- and made part of a global leadership team formed by McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien -- Mr. Daley is stepping down at the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency.
Mr. Daley submitted a lengthy resignation letter last week to several senior McCann and Interpublic executives that indicated his intent to step down from his position effective June 28. In the letter, he wrote: "The last two and a half years have taken a very different track for me than that which I discussed with [former McCann Worldgroup chief] John Dooner when he first invited me to come back to McCann at the end of 2008. This fact, together with a string of recent events, mean that I now have to redraw the lines around my career and professional life."
Also in the lengthy letter, Mr. Daley referenced "momentous challenges" he said he faced on some of McCann's key accounts.
"This period at McCann has certainly been a very interesting time and the momentous challenges we have faced on L'Oreal,GM/Opel and Nestle have been unprecedented, coming as they have in crisis form almost nonstop for the past two and a half years," Mr. Daley said. "It has been a scrap of heavyweight proportions. I hope I have helped the company at least survive in order to build for the longer term on these critical businesses. It has been hellishly taxing and tough at times, but I am convinced that with all you are doing, you will rebuild and replenish these critical accounts and enjoy great prosperity from them in the future."
Additionally he noted: "I have not done as much front-line new business as I would have liked, but opening my address book to clients like Carlsberg and Kerry foods has helped add to your portfolio. ... With regard to the future, I respectfully acknowledge the energy and vitality you have brought to the task of modernizing McCann Worldgroup and I am sure that with a fair wind you will one day knock BBDO off their perch in Cannes. I am convinced of this and know there is nothing you would enjoy more than the glory of Gold Lions galore and Network of the Year on the terrace at The Carlton."
In reference to Mr. Brien, Mr. Daley said he has "worked with and for some big personalities: Dooner, Sir Martin, Maurice Levy, Kevin Roberts, Andy Berlin, Sir Alex Ferguson et al, and you are certainly up there with them in terms of energy. Whether I see you or not in the immediate next term, I wish you continued good luck and success on the great vessel that is McCann."
Mr. Brien and McCann declined a request for comment, so it's unclear whether or how soon they plan to fill Mr. Daley's post. Mr. Daley declined to comment.
Mr. Daley's resume is lengthy and diverse, but the bulk of his career has been spent at McCann. He started at the agency's London office in 1990 and by the age of 29 he was named a group board director there. He also worked in the New York office and for a time was chief strategist for McCann's Europe, Middle East and Africa region, but left for a stint overseeing WPP's Red Cell network, and later took a post as group chairman and CEO of the U.K. operations of Publicis Groupe 's Saatchi & Saatchi. He even spent some time as group commercial director of soccer team Manchester United, before being lured back to McCann.