FCB IN TALKS TO HIRE GREY NEW YORK PRESIDENT

May Offer Steve Blamer Role as Head of North America

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide is making a serious play for Grey Worldwide's New York president, Steve Blamer.

The Interpublic Group of Cos. agency has recently overhauled a number of its top management spots, bringing in new creative and business chiefs in several of its main offices and now wants Mr. Blamer to take over in New York.

Talks progressing
Several agency and industry executives claim talks are at an advanced stage, although a precise job title has not yet been worked out. Mr. Blamer may also be asked to head FCB's North American operations. An FCB spokesman would not comment. Mr. Blamer is on vacation and could not be reached for comment, a Grey spokeswoman said.

Mr. Blamer, who became president of Grey in 2000, is highly rated by rival executives and clients for his new-business prowess and management skills.

In 2002, the New York office reeled in new clients Frontier Airlines and Pinnacle Foods and additional business from current clients J.M. Smucker Co., Masterfoods and Procter & Gamble Co. "Steve's reawakened the agency and has given people the recognition and responsibility they've long desired," said executive search consultant Sharon Spielman, managing director of Jerry Fields Associates, New York, who has recruited executives to Grey.

A return to FCB
If Mr. Blamer switches agencies, it would mark a return to FCB, where in 1979 he worked as an account executive, handling Sunkist Orange soda and other brands out of the Chicago office. He left the agency but returned in 1984 in Los Angeles, then moved over to the marketer side, first at beverage maker Capri Sun, then as head of his own company, Sundale Beverages. Mr. Blamer rejoined the ad business in 1989, becoming new-business director of Grey's Los Angeles office. He moved to London in 1998 to lead the agency in the U.K.

FCB CEO Brendan Ryan has been looking to beef up management across the board.

Management changes
In July, Gene Bartley, chief operating officer of FCB, temporarily took the reins as chairman-CEO of the New York office from Jeff Tarakajian, who remains president but now runs the Diet Coke account. On the West Coast, Dominic Whittles took over as San Francisco president from Ian Beavis, who left shortly after the agency lost the California Lottery account due to a technicality. And a search is still on to replace Mike Harris, who briefly headed the Irvine, Calif., office after Jim Harrington stepped down.

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