By Published on .

Most Popular
Agency-staff reductions swept through the CEO suite last week as chiefs of two of the nation's largest agencies, WPP Group's Y&R Advertising and Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, left their jobs. Ed Vick, a 10-year veteran of Young & Rubicam, stepped down from his post as chairman-CEO of Y&R Advertising, and Brad Brinegar is leaving Leo Burnett USA, where he has been CEO since January 2001.

Neither company plans to replace the departed executives. At Y&R, Mr. Vick's responsibilities and titles will be added to duties of Michael Dolan, 54, now chairman-CEO of Young & Rubicam, the holding company parent of Y&R Advertising. Peter Georgescu, chairman emeritus of Young & Rubicam, is consulting with Mr. Dolan as a senior adviser. Robert Brennan, 42, president of Leo Burnett Worldwide, assumes the duties that fell under Mr. Brinegar's role.

News of each executive's exit was not surprising, although for different reasons. Mr. Vick, 57, who left as a result of the acquisition of Y&R by WPP last year, had the option after Oct. 4 of leaving the agency with a severance package valued around $4.5 million. "I've been here for 10 years," said Mr. Vick, explaining why he decided to leave.

Mr. Brinegar, 46, who spent 18 years at Burnett beginning in 1979, left the agency to launch a Chicago outpost of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Ammirati Puris Lintas. The effort was unsuccessful, and he returned to Burnett in July 2000 as chief operating officer; six months later, he was elevated to CEO. Burnett's Mr. Brennan said that Mr. Brinegar's departure was a mutual decision among the two men and Linda Wolf, chairman-CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide.

"Brad and Linda and I all came to the conclusion that this was the best thing for our company," he said. "We knew it wasn't working, and we tried some different approaches, but it still wasn't working." Insiders pointed to clashing styles between Mr. Brinegar, who favored old-school deliberation, and Mr. Brennan, who is described as the "Jack Welch" responsible for making the tough decisions about changing the agency culture and business model.

While largely expected, the departures come at a fortuitous time, as agencies strive to cut costs. "As greatly talented as these two men are, one executive salary is worth 10 senior [account executives]," said Carrie Randolph, a national recruiter for Talent Zoo. "You cannot keep trimming at [the middle levels] because you need to get the work done."

Contributing: Kate MacArthur

In this article: