Grey revamps agency, names new managers

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In its first major reorganization in 30 years, Grey Advertising created a holding company, dropped the word advertising from its moniker and established a new generation of management.

As expected, Grey Chairman and President-CEO Edward Meyer announced the sweeping changes to an auditorium of 2,700 staffers in New York last week (AA, April 3).

Parent Grey Advertising Inc. is now rechristened Grey Global Group, while the ad agency, also previously named Grey Advertising, becomes Grey Worldwide. The last time a substantial overhaul occurred at the agency was in 1970, when Mr. Meyer took over as CEO.

This new structure comes as industry observers vocalized succession questions regarding Grey's existing management team, led by the 73-year-old Mr. Meyer. While the holding company will house most of Grey's old guard-including Mr. Meyer, Vice Chairman-General Manager Robert Berenson, 60; Vice Chairman-Chief Financial Officer Steven Felsher, 50; and Vice Chairman-Chief Creative Officer Stephen Novick, 59-Grey Worldwide brings in a younger leader, 43-year-old Steve Blamer.

"We really have built a management structure for the future." Mr. Meyer said. "It represents a new generation of leadership to take over."

Mr. Blamer becomes president of Grey New York, the largest office under the Grey Global umbrella. His former post as CEO of Grey London is filled by former Bartle Bogle Hegarty Deputy Chairman Martin Smith, 47.

OTHER SHIFTS

Among other companywide changes, Carolyn Carter, 44, takes on the role of president Europe, Middle East and Africa. She will manage the more than $200 million Mars account during a transition period, until Jonathan Fox, 54, takes the post, from exec VP-regional director, Asia-Pacific. Eric Rosenkranz, 47, moves to president of Asia-Pacific from exec VP-regional director of Latin America. For an intermediate period of time, Mr. Novick will continue to head creative for the New York office. However, Mr. Blamer is expected to name a successor for his New York creative post.

The new structure will enable Grey Global executives to take a more "evenhanded" approach when managing the company's subsidiaries, Mr. Meyer said. When asked if a much-speculated-upon merger with fellow Procter & Gamble Co. agency Saatchi & Saatchi would fit with the new structure, Mr. Meyer responded that the revamped framework makes it "clear that there is no need for any merger or acquisition."

However, he did add that although there is no "need" for a merger, "the holding company will look across a spectrum of companies to look at opportunities for acquisitions."

AN INDUSTRY TREND

Grey's new model as a "global diversified marketing company" comes as other ad agencies, battling management consultancies and other interlopers, position themselves as total communication companies. Last year, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles enacted a global restructuring and promoted its "D'Arcy Brand Vision."

In 1997, Saatchi & Saatchi removed the word advertising from its name, and positioned itself as an "ideas company." Numerous other agencies, such as Young & Rubicam and J. Walter Thompson Co. also want to break free of an advertising-centric mode by offering clients their respective "Whole Egg" and "Total Branding" approaches.

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