Harries harried by FCB departures

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Jonathan Harries, the newly minted CEO of Foote Cone & Belding, Chicago, is trying to shake up the agency's often staid creative even as he grapples with changes in the upper ranks.

Mr. Harries took the top job in April after Dana Anderson abruptly left to become CEO of Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago.

Since then, two other senior executives have made it known they're leaving the Interpublic Group of Cos. shop. Dan Fox, the longtime head of the Coors Brewing account and a 30-year FCB vet, last week announced he's leaving at the end of the year. And Sandy Kolkey, who heads up the Boeing Co. account, will be leaving at the end of July to take a marketing post at Discover Card.

no harm

Mr. Harries-who said no other departures are in the works-contends the changes won't affect the agency's business or its relationships. Mr. Fox, who is close with Coors CEO Leo Kiely, is being succeeded by his longtime lieutenant Marty Stock as part of a transition plan in place for more than a year. The agency also has identified an outsider to replace Mr. Kolkey, but Mr. Harries wouldn't identify who it is.

Clients back up Mr. Harries' assertion.

A Coors spokeswoman says Coors has "no plans" to change its relationship with FCB.

Anne Toulouse, VP-brand management and advertising for Boeing, said she played a role in interviewing candidates and the relationship remains strong. She noted that Mr. Harries also has been closely involved in the business.

"We are disappointed to see Dana and Sandy go," she said. "But we have a real solid partnership."

But at least in the case of Coors, the agency is dealing with other pressures. Coors is the second-largest account, representing about 15% of the agency's $105 million of billings, according to an executive familiar with FCB. A spokeswoman wouldn't comment on the numbers.

Faced with slumping sales of its flagship Coors Light brand-the brewer posted its first sales decline last year and trends remain weak-the No. 3 brewer has called on roster agencies for new ideas to replace the "Rock On" campaign. FCB is the agency of record and has had the business for more than 25 years.

Agencies made their pitches last week and have yet to hear back, people familiar with the situation said. But this is just the latest challenge the agency has faced on Coors. The marketer expanded its roster last year to include Interpublic's Deutsch, Los Angeles, and, briefly, Havas' Arnold Worldwide.

Advertising likely will come under the microscope again later this year when Coors names a president to run its U.S. business.

Mr. Harries said this sort of scrutiny is part of the business and doesn't represent a threat.

At the same time he's dealing with changes in high-ranking posts, Mr. Harries-who doubles as FCB's worldwide creative director-is also trying to bolster the agency's creative product. The agency, which numbers SC Johnson and Kraft Foods as clients, has long been known as an agency driven by account managers rather than creatives.

scouting

So, he's scouting for outside talent to bolster the agency's 200-strong creative department and investing more for training and development of current creatives. He recently merged the 16-person planning department, previously attached to account management, with the creatives.

Foote Cone also tapped Mattheu Lignel, who led the S.C. Johnson European business, as head of new business. He replaces Zane Raj, who left earlier this year.

In an interview, Mr. Harries said the quality of the creative has stalled in recent years because of economic hard times as well as the disruption FCB suffered after PepsiCo took away the Quaker Oats business, including Gatorade. "There was a complacency feeling" regarding creative, Mr. Harries said.

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