SAATCHI HIRES NEW GENERAL MILLS MANAGER

Latest Move in Effort to Rebuild $500 Million Account Team After Walkout

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, under the gun to rebuild its General Mills team following the abrupt departure last month of the account's worldwide account director and 17 longtime employees who worked for him, has hired an outsider as the senior-most account executive on the account and promoted seven remaining account team members.
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Saatchi's CEO, Mary Baglivo, remains the head of the General Mills account, which has estimated billings of more than $500 million.

Joe Belmonte
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.

Creative director
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."

Interpublic hire
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.

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