|Photo: Steven Freeman|
He fills the post vacated by David Murphy, who left in December to join Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles.
Mr. Eiserman, 33, takes over as the Irvine operation is righting itself following a tough 2005. In the first quarter of 2005, two of the agency’s major accounts -- Sony Consumer Electronics and Jaguar -- left. Momentum picked up a bit at year’s end, with the win of Hilton brands.
"At the end of the year, we were down but financially stable," said Gord McLean, CEO of Y&R North America. "Now, Rick will focus on our current clients and build on the model we’ve got here."
Y&R Irvine is unique among the WPP Group agency’s North American offices because it houses multiple disciplines -- general advertising, direct and digital -- under one roof with a single profit-and-loss statement. The office opened several years ago when Ford Motor Co., a longtime WPP client, brought its Premier Auto Group to fast-growing Orange County. But in 2002, Ford returned its Lincoln Mercury account to Detroit, and then last year the agency lost the automaker's Jaguar brand after a review. Today, the agency’s major accounts include Ford’s Land Rover, Mattel, Hilton Hotels and golf equipment maker Callaway.
Another major shop, Interpublic Group of Cos.' FCB, also has struggled with its Irvine office, recently combining management of the shop with that of its San Francisco office.
Mr. Eiserman’s experience as CEO of BrandBuzz, an agency that specializes in delivering media-neutral creative solutions, is well-suited to Irvine. "In some ways, Irvine is BrandBuzz writ larger," Mr. McLean said. "We’d like to capitalize on the model we’ve got here in Southern California and build on it. There aren't alot of big multinationals looking for agencies. There are small- and medium-size companies needing agencies" that can deliver ideas fast.
Before BrandBuzz, Mr. Eiserman had various roles within Y&R, starting in the account-managment training program in 1996, then moving into account management. He joined BrandBuzz at its inception and was named CEO in May 2004. "This is the perfect next step to take what I've learned at BrandBuzz and apply it to a larger operation," Mr. Eiserman said. BrandBuzz, based in New York, has 65 employees; the Irvine office has 240 employees.
In addition to naming Mr. Eiserman as North American managing partner, the company also promoted Dan Olson, 49, to chief operating officer of the Y&R and Wunderman combined operation, from managing director, Wunderman. At BrandBuzz, Michael Reese, general manager, moves into the role of president. Kara O'Neill has been promoted to general manager from director-integrated marketing.