Richard Ward to Help Regional Shop Grab More National Accounts

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NEW YORK ( -- Independent WestWayne, Atlanta, has hired former AOL executive and eBay consultant Richard Ward as president-CEO.

Mr. Ward, 50, who also worked at Foote Cone & Belding, San Francisco, for 18 years, will help the regional agency, whose client list includes Publix Supermarkets and BellSouth, grab more national business.

“Our intent is to become a destination agency,” said chairman and founding partner Ben West, who has taken on day-to-day responsibilities for the agency since former CEO Jeff Johnson left last August.

Region's largest independent
Though it’s the Southeast’s largest independent agency, WestWayne hasn’t had much success in penetrating the rosters of the many national companies based in the region. However, more and more marketers are shifting business to midsized and boutique agencies that are more nimble and often provide more innovative creative and media ideas, a trend WestWayne is positioning itself to take advantage of.

Mr. Ward will be asked to fire up the agency’s new-business performance. WestWayne reports revenue of about $50 million, which grew by about 4% to 5% in 2005, largely through organic growth. That performance, Mr. West said, reflects that the agency hadn’t been pitching much, and it also ran into some conflict issues. It also parted with longtime client SunTrust. Mr. West declined to give growth targets for this year, but Mr. Ward said the agency will be more aggressive on the business-development front.

Improve digital capabilities
Mr. Ward will be asked to use his deep Internet background to help WestWayne improve its digital and consumer-research capabilities, something the agency already takes a lot of pride in. He cited as one potential model AOL’s sales strategy offering, populated by former agency account planners and providing a combination of “consumer and online product solutions,” as he described it.

“We’ve long been a planning-focused shop,” Mr. West said. “We want Richard to blow that out to version 5.0.”

At both AOL and eBay, Mr. Ward’s job was to help the online giants partner with ad agencies and their holding companies. Prior to moving to the digital world, he spent 18 years at FCB, where he became the youngest managing director within the network.

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