Following Ms. Gianinno's unexpected resignation as CEO of the New York office, several executives within the agency said JWT CEO Chris Jones is planning further change.
Insiders noted Mr. Jones has instituted wholesale changes in JWT's Chicago and West Coast operations and seems now to have turned his attention to New York.
NEW CREATIVE BLOOD
"I am committed totally to investment in the product of the JWT Co., in terms of both thinking and the creative product. There has been more new blood in the creative departments around the country in the last year than in a long time, whether it's Larry Tolpin in L.A., Dennis Ryan in Chicago . . . Ed Evangelista or Helayne Spivak in New York," Mr. Jones said, adding there will be continued recruitment in the creative department in New York while noting there are no plans to trim anyone.
JWT and its sister WPP Group companies have all been under pressure from WPP Chairman Martin Sorrell to trim costs and boost operating margins.
REASON FOR RUPTURE
Ms. Gianinno's tenure came to an abrupt end following an afternoon meeting with Mr. Jones Oct. 30, when continuing disagreements over staffing and management came to a head. Although recent account losses and an embarrassing also-ran finish in a Pepsi-Cola Co. international review didn't strengthen her hand, industry observers said the main reason for the rupture was waning staff morale.
"A lot of people were unhappy with her leadership," said one executive. "She wasn't good at rallying the troops. Many people felt like they weren't part of a team. Her management style was to not delegate."
Ms. Gianinno, who joined JWT in 1995, said she was charged with retooling JWT New York, but that some of her proposed changes clashed with corporate management's plans.
"There were major disagreements I was having regarding the decisions and management priorities of the company," she said.
Ms. Gianinno had been hiring creatives to boost the New York operation, in many cases displacing JWT veterans who were unhappy with the changes.
"I absolutely shook things up," she said. "I made some unpopular calls, some popular ones . . . you don't do that and win popularity contests."
JWT also suffered some reversals recently, most notably the end of its 67-year relationship with Eastman Kodak Co., with its $40 million account, and the loss of its Asia/Pacific portion of Citibank to Young & Rubicam in a mammoth consolidation this summer.
Although Ms. Gianinno earlier played a key role in winning the consolidated $65 million Schick/-Wilkinson account for Warner-Lambert Co. and DeBeers Consolidated Mines' $70 million account, she has not had a successful new-business record since then, said one JWT executive. Another executive noted new business had been increasingly consolidated at the corporate level and many of the high-profile global pitches, including Citi-bank, were overseen by Mr. Jones, not Ms. Gianinno.
TEAM IN CHARGE FOR NOW
The agency's New York management team is assuming Ms. Gianinno's duties until a successor is found. That team includes: David Simpson, senior partner-managing director; Rick Glickman, senior partner-director of finance; J.J. Jordan, exec VP-executive creative director; Tod Seisser, exec VP-executive creative director; Jeff DeJoseph, executive director of brand planning and communications; and Carla Loffredo, senior partner-director of brand communications.
Noticeably absent from that group is Ms. Spivak, JWT's chief creative executive in North America. People close to JWT said there are no plans to replace Ms. Spivak at this time, but Ms. Gianinno's departure does not bode well for her tenure.
Ms. Spivak, who referred calls to a JWT spokeswoman, had been approached by Wells BDDP CEO Frank Assumma about joining the agency to replace Linda Kaplan Thaler, who resigned as executive creative director of Wells this summer (AA, Oct. 20).
Although she had been rumored to be out of favor with Mr. Jones for some time, Ms. Gianinno last month denied an Advertising Age report that she, too, was speaking to Mr. Assumma about a job; she said then she had no desire to leave JWT.
Industry executives close to BBDO Worldwide said Ms. Gianinno may join that agency as head of strategic planning or in a similar role. She would not comment on that possibility, and a spokesman for BBDO said no job offer had been made.