SAATCHI FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST MIKE BURNS
Legal Action Follows Mass Defection of Burns' Staff to Interpublic
INTERPUBLIC HIRES SAATCHI 17
Renegade General Mills Account Execs Join New Health Unit
SAATCHI BEGINS REBUILD OF GENERAL MILLS ACCOUNT TEAM
Names Creative Director; Moves to Fill Vacancies Following Walkout
SAATCHI WALKOUT GROUP IN TALKS WITH INTERPUBLIC
Includes Senior Account and Creative Executive
17 SAATCHI ACCOUNT STAFFERS WALK OFF JOB
Team Worked on General Mills Marketing Campaigns
Saatchi's CEO, Mary Baglivo, remains the head of the General Mills account, which has estimated billings of more than $500 million.
Joe Belmonte, most recently president of Aprais, a New York-based consultancy focused on client-agency relationships, joins Publicis Groupe's Saatchi as executive vice president and senior group account director. Mr. Belmonte's career began at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell Mithun, where he worked on General Mills cereal brands such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the launch of Oatmeal Raisin Crisp.
The agency promoted seven veteran General Mills account executives, starting with nine-year employee Amy Fischer, moves from senior vice president and management director to senior vice president and group account director. The others are: Kristen Meyer, an eight-year employee to senior vice president and group account director from senior vice president and management director.
Promoted to the senior vice president and management director position are Jay Ferguson, Lauren Lesser, Jennifer Liguori, Jennifer Ochsner, and Ashleigh Young. They had each been vice president and management supervisor.
Earlier this month, Saatchi hired Pete Johnson as senior vice president and creative director on the account. He reports to Chief Creative Director Tony Granger, who is the creative lead on General Mills.
Mark Addicks, chief marketing officer at General Mills, said, "We are very pleased with the team that Mary and Tony are building at Saatchi. They are attracting very talented people to our account, both from within Saatchi and outside the agency. The transition has been quite seamless. We are finding fresh ways to continue our existing campaigns and we have great new work in development. We continue to be very pleased with Saatchi's work on our behalf."
In mid-February, 17 Saatchi employees who worked on the agency's General Mills account resigned en masse, three days after Mike Burns, a 27-year agency veteran who was worldwide group account director and a Saatchi vice chairman, announced his resignation from the agency.
Publicis rival Interpublic last week hired the 17, who are working on an as-yet-unnamed unit focused on creating health and wellness messages targeting families and children.
Saatchi last week sued Mr. Burns, charging, among other things, breach of fiduciary duty and duty of loyalty. Saatchi is seeking at least $3 million in damages against Mr. Burns. A call to Mr. Burns' lawyer seeking comment on the suit was not returned at press time.