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17 SAATCHI ACCOUNT STAFFERS WALK OFF JOB

Team Worked on General Mills Marketing Campaigns

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Seventeen employees of Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, who work on the General Mills account resigned from the agency yesterday, a spokeswoman for the agency said.
The 19 employees worked on Cheerios and other General Mills products.

The move follows the resignation last week of Mike Burns, who had been vice chairman and worldwide account director at Saatchi. Mr. Burns was with the agency for 25 years and was a longtime General Mills account director.

Senior account director
Among the executives who resigned was Ann Adraince, senior group account director on General Mills and head of the agency's Kid Connection unit.

Doug Moore, vice president of advertising and branding at General Mills, is a former Saatchi & Saatchi executive. The Publicis Groupe ad agency works on various General Mills brands, including Cheerios, Wheaties, Kix, Berry Burst, Total, Oatmeal Crisp and Cookie Crisp, as well as fruit snacks.

General Mills spent $206 million for the first 10 months of last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

The Saatchi spokeswoman said there are no plans for the General Mills business to move.

A General Mills spokesman confirmed today that "Saatchi & Saatchi New York CEO Mary Baglivo and chief creative officer Tony Grainger have assumed leadership responsibilities on the General Mills account." He declined to comment on the departure of the 17 staffers.

'Important client'
"While the recent departures are unfortunate, we remain confident in our ability to service this important client. We will continue partnering with them to create big ideas that transform General Mills' brands and take the business to even greater heights," Saatchi management said in a statement.

Industry observers speculate that the recent events could indicate Mr. Burns plans to create an independent agency, possibly to handle General Mills' advertising.

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