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DEUTSCH DIVORCE SPOTLIGHTS DWORIN BREAKUP OPENS OPTIONS FOR BOTH PARTNERS

By Published on .

Now that Donny Deutsch and Steve Dworin have split up, Steve has discovered that he's the hottest property turned loose on Madison Avenue in years. And Donny finds himself considering the acquisition of another shop to further bolster his agency.

One of the most combustible but successful pairings in recent agency history, Deutsch/Dworin stunned clients and the industry last week when irreconcilable philosophical and personality differences drove Mr. Dworin, 40, out the door of the booming agency, where he was president for more than 21/2 years.

Though Mr. Dworin is viewed as the partner with the Midas touch-billings jumped from $90 million to $275 million during his tenure-Mr. Deutsch said his shop remains solid.

"The shop is cooking," said the ever garrulous Mr. Deutsch, 36. He added, however, that he might consider buying another agency to assure the continued growth of his operation, once again named simply Deutsch as when his father founded it in 1969.

Mr. Dworin, meanwhile, said he is willing to consider an entrepreneurial venture or a post at a large agency, even J. Walter Thompson USA, where he spent 15 years before joining Mr. Deutsch.

"I have a lot of respect for JWT," Mr. Dworin said. "I was very upset when I left there. I'd be interested in talking to them."

It's also possible Mr. Dworin could go to JWT's sister agency Ogilvy & Mather in a senior post.

His friends say he has been besieged with calls, but Mr. Dworin said only, "I don't think I'm going to have a difficult time getting something."

Mr. Dworin is contractually forbidden from pursuing Deutsch accounts for more than two years, and Mr. Deutsch insisted all are secure at the agency.

An agency insider, however, said clients, particularly the most recent wins like Hardee's Food Systems and Schieffelin & Somerset Co., were stunned.

"Obviously, this caught us by surprise," said Jerry Gramaglia, exec VP-marketing at Hardee's. "If [Mr. Dworin's departure] had happened a few months ago, I'd have been more concerned."

Nick Fell, senior VP-marketing at Schief felin & Somerset, said: "While Steve may have been 50% of the reason for our assigning the Tanqueray business to Deutsch/ Dworin, both Steve and Donny have created a great team."

Those accounts comprise large chunks of the new-business wins since Mr. Dworin joined the agency.

Mr. Dworin-whose total annual compensation at JWT totaled about $400,000-is said to have earned between $1.5 million and $2 million last year. His 20% agency stake, repurchased by Mr. Deutsch, has been valued at $2 million to $3 million.

Reports of disputes between the partners had been buzzing around the agency world.

"There were very different personalities, styles and philosophies that made it difficult for us to go on being partners," Mr. Dworin said.

Mr. Deutsch came under attack earlier by others in the industry for claiming most of the credit for ads during President Clinton's election campaign. After that criticism, Mr. Dworin told friends he worried his own stature would be tarnished by his partner's ego and penchant for careless, cheeky comments.

Jeanne Whalen contributed to this story.

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