The move signals the beginning of a succession plan for Chairman-CEO Peter Georgescu, 58, and is viewed by executives close to the agency as a prelude to further organizational changes.
The post of chief operating officer has been vacant since 1982; Chairman Emeritus Alex Kroll last held the title. For now, Mr. Vick, 52, will retain the title of worldwide chairman-CEO of Y&R Advertising and worldwide chairman-CEO of the Y&R Wunderman Cato Johnson Partnership.
Industry speculation is that Mitch Kurz, 46, president-chief operating officer of Y&R Advertising and the Y&R/WCJ partnership, was believed to be in the running to become Mr. Georgescu's successor. Executives close to the situation believe he will now be considered as a potential successor to Mr. Vick when he's ready to relinquish Y&R Advertising leadership.
"That's a few chess moves beyond what any of us need to worry about at this time. We're nicely spaced out. Ed and Mitch are generations apart," said Mr. Georgescu.
RELATED TO STOCK OFFERING?
While one insider said the organizational changes are key to Y&R's upcoming public stock offering, Mr. Georgescu shrugged off speculation the changes are related to that.
The agency is expected to go public by spring.
According to Y&R executives, Mr. Vick's move is part of a subtle, ongoing restructuring designed to keep client contact strong and emphasis on the advertising product fluid throughout the agency.
One agency executive noted that the appointment of Peter Stringham as North American chairman-CEO (AA, Dec. 1) is part of that strategy.
Further executive changes are expected on the international side during the next year. Y&R executives are said to be interviewing candidates to oversee international that would entail the creation of a new post.
Y&R also is in talks with candidates to succeed Latin America Chairman Joseph De Deo, 60.
NEW UNIT BEING CREATED
Also, Y&R is bringing together corporate-identity unit Landor Associates, PR unit Burson-Marsteller and healthcare agency Sudler & Hennessey into an Allied Communications unit to be headed by Tom Bell, president-CEO of Burson.
Mr. Vick would not elaborate on the agencywide changes, but did say moves are occurring to support Y&R's operating strategy, which is "fundamentally different" from that of other holding companies such as Omnicom Group, WPP Group