As part of his new remit, he is expected to help take the McGarryBowen network global and advise on client matters across Dentsu's family of agencies.
Neither Mr. McGarry nor Dentsu executives could immediately be reached for comment.
In an internal memo to employees, Tim Andree, president-CEO of the Dentsu Network, explained the changes and what Mr. McGarry's post as a special executive adviser at Dentsu Inc. means. Among other things, it signals a major step toward management succession for the shop, which was founded in 2002 by the now-72-year-old Mr. McGarry, along with Gordon Bowen (McGarryBowen's chief creative officer) and Stewart Owen.
"In his new role, officially titled Tokubetsu Komon (a prestigious Japanese title), he will strengthen the entire Dentsu footprint worldwide, inclusive of McGarryBowen," said Mr. Andree in the memo. "It is truly an honor that John has been selected by Dentsu's leadership in Tokyo for this position, one that will help us leverage John's invaluable expertise and wisdom on a global scale."
He added: "During this time, McGarryBowen's senior management of Gordon Bowen, Stewart Owen, Eric Vukmirovich, John McGarry III, Bill Borrelle and Tim Scott will lead agency matters on a day-to-day basis as part of a new management committee structure. The chairman of this committee is Gordon Bowen, who will report to me at Dentsu."
For McGarryBowen, Ad Age 's Agency of the Year for the second time in three years, it's a sure sign of trying to institutionalize the McGarryBowen way of doing business from a management perspective. And, surprisingly, it's not naming a new CEO.
Mr. McGarry's new title isn't just symbolic. According to a person familiar with the situation, although Mr. McGarry will still have ties to McGarryBowen's activities, he is moving to Dentsu's TriBeCa offices so he can work more closely with Mr. Andree.
The agency will most likely open another global office sooner rather than later. Its first move outside of the U.S. was to London. Earlier this year the McGarryBowen brand took over Dentsu offices in Europe.
Clients have been informed of the changes, but it remains to be seen how the marketplace (highly attracted to the agency in the past few years) will react to the departure of Mr. McGarry. With his charm and obsessive focus on client service, he was largely responsible for McGarryBowen's landing many of its major clients early on, and more recent ones, including Verizon Wireless.