Mr. Berger, chairman of the event and executive chairman of Euro RSCG North America, has been named chairman emeritus by the event's board of directors. Deutsch CEO Linda Sawyer and Crispin Porter & Bogusky Chairman Chuck Porter have been charged with overseeing Advertising Week 2008 as co-chairmen.
Now in its fifth year, the confab -- slated for Sept. 22-28 in New York -- will be under pressure to rise above prior years of criticism from attendees and industry observers (including Advertising Age) that the event, despite its ability to draw a strong turnout, offers little useful dialogue about the ad business.
Executives familiar with the matter say the leadership moves stemmed in part from a feeling amongst stakeholders that Mr. Berger wielded too much power over Advertising Week. He is the only active remaining member of the trio who founded the event five years ago. The others were O. Burtch Drake, who retired this year as head of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and the late DDB CEO Ken Kaess. Mr. Berger could not be reached for comment.
Nancy Hill, who serves as president-CEO of both the trade group and the yearly event, said the decision was spurred not by those criticisms but by "time constraints" upon the organizers. Per the original charter, the chairman of the 4A's ( TBWA President-CEO Tom Carroll is the incoming chair) automatically was granted the same title for Advertising Week and took the reins for the event, said Ms. Hill. Going forward, chairs of Advertising Week will be voted to serve two-year terms by the event's board of directors, composed of CEOs from member agencies as well as other industry leaders.
Advertising Week's changes in leadership come in step with recent changes at the industry trade group to which the event is aligned, the 4A's. In January, Ms. Hill was named president-CEO succeeding Mr. Drake, who had helmed the nearly century-old organization since 1994.
"On behalf of the entire board and the entire Advertising Week family, we thank Ron Berger for his vision and leadership to helping grow Advertising Week to the success that it is today and look forward to his ongoing contributions as Chairman Emeritus," Matt Scheckner, executive director of Advertising Week, said in a statement.