Last month, Ms. Laing, 46, former chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, London, took over the New York-based CEO position from Alan Bishop, who replaced Ms. Laing in London.
The move not only provides Ms. Laing with international experience, it also gives her the opportunity to run the larger North American operation. Saatchi & Saatchi North America reported billings of $3 billion in 1995, with $1.5 billion from the New York office. The U.K. office reported $650 million.
Ms. Laing has spent most of her advertising career at Saatchi & Saatchi, with over 17 years at the shop. In 1988, she left to form her own agency, Laing Henry, which was acquired by Saatchi's parent company, now called Cordiant, in early 1995. Ms. Laing was appointed chairman of the London operations and helped to defend and rebuild the agency after Maurice Saatchi took top management executives and clients from his former agency.
Industry speculation is that Ms. Laing is one of several candidates being groomed to succeed Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide CEO Ed Wax, 60, when he retires. Mr. Wax's contract expires in December, but there is no official word as to when he will step down.
Ms. Laing says meeting with Saatchi & Saatchi's North American clients is one of her top priorities in her new post. She also intends to "look at revenue streams outside of classic advertising, to serve other needs," such as direct marketing and new media.