With shifts that coincide with her two-year anniversary at the agency, Ms. Beers shuffled Shelly Lazarus to president of O&M North America, a vacant post, from president of the New York office.
Tro Piliguian becomes New York president from chairman-ceo of O&M in Toronto and partner at Academie-Ogilvy Communications in Montreal. Also, William Gray was named head of client services for the New York agency, a new post. He remains executive group director on the agency's American Express Co. account.
"I wanted to do a lot of things at once," Ms. Beers said when asked about the length of time it has taken her to make the appointments, rumored to be in the offing for months.
Ms. Beers clearly hopes the new appointments will squelch speculation about the future roles of several key O&M executives, including Ms. Beers herself, who has been under pressure to accelerate management shifts that would bolster the agency. As part of that effort, she has also formed an eight-member executive committee including Ms. Lazarus; Kelly O'Dea, president-worldwide client service; Harry Reid, chairman, O&M Europe; and Rod Wright, chairman, O&M Direct North America.
Although the agency snared two status accounts-AmEx, which it won back from Chiat/Day, and Jaguar Cars-soon after Ms. Beers' appointment in 1992, O&M's U.S. offices have come up short in reviews since then.
"I think Ogilvy has been asked to [pitch] everything," Ms. Beers said. "Our invitations are at twice the rate they used to be. Two years ago, Ogilvy had to struggle; now we're over-invited."
In addition, the New York office recently lost key clients Hardee's Food Systems and Kraft General Foods' Crystal Light.
Those disappointments have sparked industry criticism of Ms. Beers, whose worldwide responsibilities dwarf her previous duties as ceo of Tatham Euro RSCG, Chicago. Her supporters, however, stress that tackling O&M's entrenched culture and executive layers was a harder task than anticipated by Ms. Beers, not known for her operational knack.
Shifts involving Ms. Lazarus and Mr. Piliguian were expected, though there had been speculation Ms. Beers would recruit an outsider to assume the agency's top New York job.
"I never seriously considered any outside candidates," Ms. Beers said, though she met with Steve Dworin before he took the ceo post at N W Ayer.
Still, rumors persist that both Ms. Beers and executives from WPP Group, O&M's parent, are eager to recruit a major creative talent to either replace O&M New York Exec VP-Creative Head Bill Hamilton or take a larger agency role. Mr. Hamilton, who returned last week from an unexpected four-week leave, couldn't be reached for comment.