Ammirati puris lintas underwent a sweeping management shift just one month after Rick Hadala was hired as North American chairman-CEO in October. Mr. Hadala and Chairman-CEO Martin Puris set out to redefine the agency, and in the process moved nine of Ammirati's top 15 executives into new roles. That transition led to the departure of some high-level executives including New York Co-Creative Directors Mark Johnson and Tom Nelson. New York President Steve Gardner and North American CEO Duncan Pollock also left in 1998. The latest to leave is Michael Lotito, general manager of technology.
A number of high-profile clients also left. Among the losses: Ragu's $15 million account, Sara Lee Corp.'s $100 million media business and the $200-million plus Compaq Computer Corp. account. On the winning side, the New York office pulled in work from Goldman Sachs & Co., Johnson & Johnson, Bacardi Rums and Labatt USA. The New York office made creative strides with its $140 million global campaign for Iridium satellite phone service. While the agency's fledgling Chicago office produced standout work for Ameritech Corp., that office produced little new business.
The agency's bold repositioning will be put to the test this year. Look for the Chicago office to reel in business at the expense of Leo Burnett Co. when Chicago CEO Brad Brinegar's non-compete agreement with the agency is up next