His father, James R. Heekin Jr., occasionally took him to the office; the senior Mr. Heekin joined Ogilvy & Mather in 1956 and left as president in 1969.
While the adolescent boy may not have been terribly impressed by the legendary Mr. Ogilvy, subsequent years changed his perspective. Like his father, Mr. Heekin, now 49, will soon take the helm of arguably one of the most successful ad agencies of its time. He becomes president-CEO of McCann-Erickson Worldwide, an Interpublic Group of Cos. agency, on Jan. 1.
RETURNING TO U.S.
In the move, McCann-Erickson WorldGroup Chairman-CEO John J. Dooner Jr. will relinquish that part of his title. Industry observers weren't surprised; Mr. Heekin headed McCann North America before heading off to his current post in London nearly 18 months ago, where he oversees Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Mr. Dooner said he appreciates Mr. Heekin's passion for the business, sense of honesty and teamwork.
"His business acumen and the contributions he's already made to McCann, both here in the states and in Europe, are also very evident," he said.
Mr. Heekin said that while the move may have been expected, it wasn't quite that simple.
"I had a great deal of success in North America. . . . The idea of Europe was to see and experience the rest of McCann. When I left, at that point, there were other guys in the race and John Dooner never made me any promises," he said.
At the time of the move Mr. Heekin was quoted as saying: "The future will take care of itself."
With his appointment as what would seem to be the successor to Mr. Dooner, talk resurfaced about the possibility of Mr. Dooner being the successor to Interpublic Chairman-CEO Phil Geier. But Mr. Geier quashed that speculation, at least in the near term, by saying he's "not going anywhere" for at least two to three years.
CHANGE OF DIRECTION
"When I was growing up, I was determined not to be in advertising," Mr. Heekin said. "As an advertising brat, growing up you didn't have your father around as much as you might have liked."
But after majoring in psychology at Williams College, Williamstown, Mass., he re-evaluated his likes and dislikes, and realized advertising combined his two strengths -- working with people and communications.
In 1975, he joined J. Walter Thompson Co., New York, as a strategic planner. Aside from a three-year stint at Kraft General Foods, Mr. Heekin has been a fixture on the agency side of the business. He spent five years at Kenyon & Eckhardt (since merged into Bozell) in the early 1980s, and rejoined JWT in 1985, where he eventually rose to general manager of the New York office. He joined McCann as president/North America in 1993.
The senior Mr. Heekin, now 72, was quick to congratulate his son on his newest appointment. He sent him a simple fax: "Well, I guess the future has taken care