Mr. Gilbert declined comment.
Asked last week about reports of Mr. Gilbert's impending departure, Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide' CEO, said, "It is not our policy to comment on rumors." Mr. Roberts could not be reached at press time today.
According to a knowledgeable executive, Mr. Roberts is seeking a new executive to run the New York office. Mr. Burns, a longtime Saatchi managing director named co-CEO only last December. He may be a contender for the job, although but some Saatchi insiders suggest he would already have been selected for the job if he were the top candidate.
Mr. Burns did not return calls seeking comment.
Mr. Gilbert, 50, came to Saatchi New York a year and a half ago from Saatchi's Los Angeles office, where he was CEO from 1997 to 2003. Prior to that, he worked for Saatchi agency Team One in El Segundo, Calif. He started his career in 1980 at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, which was purchased by Saatchi & Saatchi in 1986.
Saatchi & Saatchi New York's largest accounts include those from Procter & Gamble Co. and General Mills. Late last year Saatchi suffered a significant loss with the departure of longtime client Johnson & Johnson, which moved its Tylenol, St. Joseph, Pepcid and Mylanta brands from the agency. Mr. Gilbert arrived at Saatchi New York in mid-2003 just as the Greater New York Toyota Dealers Association put its $330 million account in review. The agency successfully defended the business during a closely fought review.