HERTZ MAY DRIVE AWAY FROM BDDP

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Does Hertz Corp. like the way BDDP Group handled the dismissal of Wells Rich Greene BDDP Chairman-CEO Kenneth Olshan? Not exactly.

Hertz is close to firing BDDP as its agency in Europe and is considering reviewing its $50 million U.S. account, according to an industry executive.

Hertz spokesmen in the U.S. and Europe emphatically denied the company plans any agency changes. Mr. Olshan's successor, Frank Assumma, and BDDP Group President-CEO Jean-Claude Boulet said they had heard nothing about it.

But a second executive close to Hertz said its performance in Europe has been below expectations and noted that talk of its dissatisfaction with BDDP has circulated for several months. Firing Mr. Olshan, a good friend of Hertz Chairman-CEO Frank Olson, "was a major step in the wrong direction," this source said.

BDDP, the French holding company that owns WRG, fired Mr. Olshan, who is Jewish, by phone on Sept. 24, at the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. Mr. Assumma started the next day, having resigned as CEO of Bates North America the previous week.

The way the matter was handled disturbed clients including Procter & Gamble Co. and Chase Manhattan Bank (AA, Oct. 2).

Meanwhile, Mr. Assumma has made some sudden moves of his own. One of his first: removing WRG's law firm, Kronish, Lieb, Weiner & Heller, replacing it with Schulte Roth & Zabel. That firm has taken over all WRG legal matters, including those pertaining to last spring's scandal in which two executives were forced to resign and repay $500,000 they allegedly had misappropriated. (However, there is no litigation pending from that incident.)

Mr. Assumma said he simply wanted to make a change. Although Kronish had a good relationship with Mr. Olshan, the latter has retained separate counsel to handle his severance matters.

Mr. Assumma also quickly quashed-or at least put on hold-plans to merge WRG's package-goods account teams with Bastoni/Barnes, its direct-marketing unit, sources said. The idea had been to create better ties between advertising and direct marketing for package-goods clients such as P&G.

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