Last year was rocky for Y&R Advertising, New York. After an on-again, off-again courtship with WPP Group, the agency's parent, Young & Rubicam Inc., was acquired for $4.7 billion in stock. Y&R Inc. companies also went through big management changes. Departing executives included Tom Bell, CEO of Y&R Inc., Graham Philips, CEO of Y&R Advertising, and Ted Bell, vice chairman worldwide creative director at the agency. Mike Dolan, previously vice chairman-chief financial officer of Y&R Inc., took charge of the company in 2001 as chairman-CEO. Y&R lost a bevy of blue-chip clients last year, including Ericsson, KFC Corp., the U.S. Army, H&R Block and Citibank. Kraft Foods also pulled most of its business.
The agency, which lost about $800 million in billings, did reel in about $700 million in new client billings from marketers such as Computer Associates and Pfizer.
On the creative front, Y&R made a few good impressions with hilarious work for H&R Block featuring the travails of people who attempt to do their taxes on their own. (The client decided to go its own way shortly after the campaign broke, putting the account in review.) Sony Electronic ads featuring an extraterrestrial blue furball known as Plato also struck a chord with consumers.
Already this year the agency lost United Airlines' estimated $50 million international account in a review with Fallon, Minneapolis, for the consolidated business. On a sweeter note, Ford Motor Co. awarded advertising duties to Y&R for the launch of the new Jaguar X-Type model. Meanwhile, the agency must cope with continuing rumors that top management defections will increase in 2001. It is on a mission to find a creative leader to replace the departed Ted Bell. The position is expected to be filled in the first half of the year. Observers are keeping a keen eye out for more layoffs as the agency will need to trim staff in order to fulfill WPP CEO Martin Sorrell's commitment to reducing expenses.
Last year's rating: 2