Fudge initiates Y&R reorganization

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Ann Fudge last week sent a message to clients, employees and competitors that she's serious about changing how Y&R Advertising does business.

In her first major move since being named in May 2003 chairman-CEO of WPP Group's Young & Rubicam Brands, Ms. Fudge unveiled a reorganization that will allow marketers to draw on the resources of any of Y&R's six North American offices.

Five of the six executives who served as geographic CEOs are no longer charged with managing an office's profits; instead, their focus will be solely on specific clients and staffing and managing their accounts. The reorg includes the creation of a group dubbed the "catalyst team," made up of five executives charged with bringing in new accounts and strategizing for existing clients.

Clients, Ms. Fudge believes, will benefit from having a larger pool of people and resources available to solve their marketing problems. A client formerly limited to the New York or San Francisco staff only, for example, can now turn to others in, say, Toronto or Chicago.

test drive

The talent-sharing concept, agency insiders said, got a test drive with the review for Cadbury Schweppes' 7Up, which wrapped in late June. The agency assembled an account-and-creative team plucked from its New York and San Francisco offices; the West Coast creatives, said those familiar with the review, were pivotal to Y&R's retaining the business.

As part of the reorganization, Ms. Fudge eliminated the individual profit-and-loss statements for each office and grouped them under a single one.

Michael Patti, hired in February 2003 as chairman-CEO of Y&R, New York, and also worldwide creative director, gets a new assignment. As vice chairman, he is now charged with overseeing creative network-wide and relinquishes previous responsibilities for New York. Some interpreted the move as an admission that New York is no longer the powerhouse base for big-ticket clients.

The reorganization is part of Ms. Fudge's plan, first introduced to Young & Rubicam's staff last December, to bring greater focus on clients. "Understand my philosophy," Ms. Fudge said. "It is to take care of my people and my client partners, and the profits will follow."

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