The JWT senior partner, a veteran of 19 years in the Detroit office, also will continue his current management duties as executive management director on Ford dealer groups across the U.S. His new duties will include directing JWT's relationship with the client's senior management.
SUCCESSOR TO SCHWEITZER?
There's speculation the 46-year-old Mr. McClowry, who started at JWT as account coordinator for the Ford dealer groups, may eventually succeed JWT President Peter Schweitzer, 56, as head of Ford's global account.
"Sure, I'd love to succeed Peter," Mr. McClowry said. "But that's up to me to earn it. There have been no promises made."
JWT also named Senior Partner Mike Gonyea, previously management director on Ford's global product planning, to executive management director on the Ford account. He'll handle day-to-day business on the account.
The duo replace Sean Neall, who was senior VP-executive manager on the Ford account for the past six years. Mr. Neall will now head the Ford account in London at JWT sister agency Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide succeeding David Miller. That international move may signal Mr. Neall's star is also rising.
NEALL'S MOVE ABROAD
For Mr. Neall to move up JWT's career ladder, "he had to get a job outside Detroit," said Ross Roberts, VP-general manager of Ford Division. "Sean is a very bright young man."
As part of his duties in the dealer group post, Mr. McClowry attended Ford Division strategy meetings, so he's in tune with the client, Mr. Roberts said.
Mr. Schweitzer explained the changes this way: "We felt it was time for a change. We feel it's good for [Mr. Neall] and good for Ford Motor Co., which is getting a seasoned pro for Europe."
O&M's London office has shown signs of turmoil, having had several different Ford account directors in recent years.
DEDICATION TO TEAMWORK
When Mr. McClowry was asked why he thinks he got his new job, he cited dedication to teamwork and an ability to help his staff develop their talents.
Mr. McClowry denied JWT hallway chatter that he will be replaced on Ford's dealer group account.
"I don't think I'll ever give up the dealer side," he said.
Mitchell Dale, chairman of the Ford Dealer Council, described Mr. McClowry as "the most talented JWT employee I've ever dealt with. I'm not surprised they've given him more responsibility."
Messrs. McClowry and Neall have different personalities, Mr. Dale said. Mr. McClowry, a former Michigan State football player, is "more of a let's-get-a-game-plan-and-go guy," while Mr. Neall is more of a strategist with a softer-sell approach and more prone to consider research.
"This sounds like a great move for both of them," Mr. Dale said.