The essence: Y&R CEO Ann Fudge is streamlining operations and processes, and has hired a new set of executives acting as a "catalyst team" to provide cross-disciplinary insights. But the U.S. unit of WPP is shrinking, while some of its Young & Rubicam siblings (i.e. Wunderman) are faring better. Chicago and San Francisco are creative bright spots; the Midwest agency crafted good work for Miller Brewing Co. in jump-ball situations.
Net growth: 2004 started with Burger King Corp. bolting for MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky. Longtime client AT&T Corp. slashed consumer advertising; Ford Motor Co.'s Jaguar put its account into review. Computer Associates yanked its account following four years at Y&R. Y&R logged wins: Weight Watchers International, Foster Farms, Callaway Golf Co and Toys "R" Us, which later cut its media buy. It also retained 7UP from Cadbury Schweppes' Americas Beverages after a review. But the wins were small compared to the losses.
management: Ms. Fudge has made some bold moves: consolidating multiple office P&Ls into one and creating a catalyst team for all of the agency. But the impact of these measures is still unknown. Y&R also spun off BrandBuzz as an independent unit.
Creative quality and effectiveness: Despite decent creative that built brand awareness, CA left for Interpublic Group of Cos.' Draft and a focus on building customer relationships. A Sony CyberShot TV spot, starring Aerosmith's Steve n Tyler makes a point with a laugh.