"We're a company that's not afraid of change. And he's a guywho's been an agent of change wherever he's been," said Terence McGuirk, exec VP of Turner.
Mr. Heyer, 41, joins Turner from Young & Rubicam Inc., where he was exec VP as well as chief operating officer of Young & Rubicam Advertising, New York.
Before joining Y&R in August 1992, he was a senior partner at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, where he contributed significantly to Turner's current organizational structure.
Mr. Heyer leaves Y&R in the middle of its own management and operational restructuring, for which he was the lead architect.
Also, in New York, Mr. Heyer formed Shared Financial Services to consolidate operational infrastructure of Y&R's U.S. units and was coordinating dramatic payroll reductions that are expected to total $10 million this month.
Even after his unexpected departure, the agency last week moved ahead with its plan to terminate about 50 employees from Y&R Advertising and corporate staff.
Mr. Heyer was also instrumental in bringing in several major accounts, including Du Pont Co.'s Lycra and Digital Equipment Corp.
His sudden departure both stunned and angered many executives at Y&R. A number of those executives had been equally surprised, and rankled, when Y&R Inc. Chairman Alex Kroll and Y&R CEO Peter Georgescu recruited the aggressive management consultant.
Mr. Heyer, an often abrasive executive, was rumored to have pulled down close to $1 million in compensation from Y&R, and it's assumed he's making at least that at Turner. Several high-profile candidates were courted for the position, including General Motors Corp. ad czar Phil Guarascio.
In many ways, Mr. Heyer appears to be the ideal candidate for Turner. Besides his earlier relationship with the company, Mr. Heyer is privy to the inner workings of many other top media operations, including two of the Big 3 broadcast networks, from his days at Booz Allen.
That knowledge may be key to Turner's future, because Chairman-CEO Ted Turner wants to either acquire or launch his own broadcast network.
Meanwhile, Turner is evolving into a complex multimedia company that has expanded well beyond its cable channel roots and now includes major studios such as Castle Rock Entertainment, New Line Cinema and Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Hinting at Turner's future, Mr. Heyer said, "It would be unlike Ted Turner to passively sit back and watch it evolve and then react. He's the guy who built it, and he has the vision and the power and courage to reshape it in ways that make it more relevant, more valuable and more attractive to all of the constituents that hitchhike on it."