Well-known, highly regarded free-lance team Dallas Itzen and Patrick O'Neill are slated to share the top slot, most likely as executive creative directors, said executives close to the situation.
The moves follow last week's departure of at least five creative-side employees out of a total 23, including Chief Creative Officer David Page. Copywriter Ms. Itzen and art director Mr. O'Neill, currently free-lancers at TBWA, have been hired guns for shops such as Deutsch, McCann-Erickson Worldwide and DiNoto Lee.
Greg DiNoto, creative director/partner at DiNoto Lee, declined to comment on Ms. Itzen and Mr. O'Neill's move at TBWA, but said he has worked extensively with the duo in the past. "If they were to make the move, they'd be uniquely equipped to put TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, back on the map in a big way," he said. "They're great athletes and they can be great athletes' coaches."
TBWA New York President-CEO Carl Johnson has called a creative staff meeting for today to announce Ms. Itzen and Mr. O'Neill's new posts, according to another executive close to the situation. Mr. Johnson didn't return repeated calls for comment.
The latest management shifts at TBWA come a little more than a year after Messrs. Page and Johnson were hired to revamp the New York office. Both Messrs. Johnson and Page came aboard in April 1999, and at the time worked together to reshape New York management.
In their first five months at the agency, Messrs. Johnson and Page hired nine new executives throughout the agency. According to a third executive close to the subject, Mr. Johnson notified Mr. Page last week about his dismissal. Mr. Page also didn't return calls for comment by press time.
These changes mark the latest restructuring of TBWA's New York office, which is often overshadowed by its West Coast sibling. While New York stood on the sidelines, TBWA's Playa del Rey, Calif., office attracted much of the network's creative and client attention. In interviews over the last year, Mr. Johnson has vowed to get the New York office in shape, with a focus on new business and creative output.
TBWA's New York clients include Absolut vodka, BarnesandNoble.com, Circuit City Corp., Kozmo.com and Prodigy.