NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Ann Fudge, the embattled former Kraft Foods executive who took the helm of Young & Rubicam Brands in May 2003, is retiring at year's end, the company announced today.
Ann Fudge Retires From Young & Rubicam Brands
Groundbreaking Chairman-CEO Leaves After Three Years
No immediate successor is planned.
When she was named to succeed Michael Dolan three years ago as chairman-CEO, Ms. Fudge immediately made headlines for becoming the top-ranking African-American female in the adveritising industry. A graduate of Harvard Business School who built a career in marketing at General Foods and then Kraft, Ms. Fudge brought a history of client-side experience to her job heading one of the world's largest global marketing communications companies.
While her appointment was groundbreaking, her performance at the company's helm was largely regarded as underwhelming. She was widely criticized for focusing initially on the internal operations of Y&R, the advertising agency and most well-known unit of Young & Rubicam Brands, rather than diving into client relationships and luring new business.
By late 2005, the agency's North American offices lost major accounts -- Ford Motor Cos.' Jaguar, Computer Associates and Sony Consumer Electronics, most significantly -- and Ms. Fudge announced the launch of a search to for an executive to lead the Y&R network. Earlier this year, Hamish McLennan took over that role.
Mr. McLennan, a 40-year-old Australian, was appointed CEO of Y&R in June. He earned a reputation as an energetic and no-nonsense leader running the Australian and New Zealand operations of Young & Rubicam Brands, which he helped to revive after joining in 2002 by focusing on winning new business; he has brought the same goal to the Y&R network.
Ms. Fudge intends to devote more time to nonprofit activities. She currently sits on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as General Electric Co.
WPP in 2005 paid Ms. Fudge $1.433 million in salary, bonus and other compensation, according to the WPP annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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Bradley Johnson contributed to this report.