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Former Y&R Chairman-CEO Ed Ney Dies at 88

Architect of Agency's 'Whole Egg' Strategy Also Served as U.S. Ambassador to Canada

By Published on . 3

Ed Ney
Ed Ney Credit: Scott Gries

Edward Noonan Ney, former diplomat and Y&R Chairman, died today at 88 years old.

Mr. Ney joined the agency in 1951 and he served as CEO and then chairman from 1970 to 1989. He returned to Y&R in 1999 as Chairman Emeritus. He also served as chairman of the board of advisers at Burson-Marsteller, a PR agency under the Y&R umbrella.

Mr. Ney is credited with developing the agency's integrated "whole egg" strategy, and in laying the groundwork, was aggressive on the M&A front. Completed under his watch: the purchases of Marsteller, Burson-Marsteller, Sudler & Hennessey, Wunderman Ricotta & Kline and Cato Johnson, as well as the agency's joint venture with Dentsu.

"Ed understood, probably more than anybody else, both the power of agency brands and, at the same time the paradoxical need to bring them together," said Martin Sorrell, chairman-CEO of Y&R parent WPP in a statement. "Y&R itself, Wunderman, Burson-Marsteller, Cohn & Wolfe, Sudler & Hennesey, Landor, amongst others all exemplify the strength and need for the 'Whole Egg' approach. He understood it all and saw it sooner than most."

Post-agency work
"When I started at Y&R in 1976, it was in the golden days of Ed Ney's tenure," said David Sable, global CEO of Y&R. "His charm was magnetic; his generosity, magnanimous. Ed was known to walk the building, where he talked to everyone he passed, knew everyone's name and always had a question or kind observation to share. His idea that we should integrate communications for our client -- which he implemented by acquiring the top-flight companies across disciplines, creating a model for working together collaboratively ("Best Alone. Better Together") -- changed the course of the industry."

After Y&R, Mr. Ney served as the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, where he played a key role in efforts to expand the U.S.- Canada Free Trade Agreement to Mexico, according to a release from the agency.

Mr. Ney is survived by his wife, Patricia Murray Wood. He has three children from a previous marriage: Nicholas Hayes Ney; Hilary St. Clair Ney and Michelle Kilduff, as well as five grandchildren, Kristina, Andrew, Kimberly, Conor and Hunter, and two great-grandchildren.

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