IS THIS A RECORD? Young & Rubicam's New York Office Has Seen 15 CEOs Come And Go In The Last 13 Years

revolving door

Photo: Rusty Clark / Flickr, CC

Young & Rubicam is a giant global ad agency with a long, venerable history behind it. It handles the Xerox, Campbell Soup and Land Rover accounts. The problem is its flagship office on Madison Avenue in New York has had an unfortunate level of turnover in the executive suite over the last decade.

Over lunch recently, a source told me he believed Y&R had gone through half a dozen CEOs in the last 13 years. I found that hard to believe — until I went back through Adweek’s archives. In fact it’s worse than that:  Since 2000, Y&R New York has lived through eight CEOs with “global” or “worldwide” responsibilities and another seven executives with the titles such as “North American CEO” or “New York CEO.”

That’s 15 — fifteen! — CEOs in total overseeing Y&R New York at some level.

The churn has taken its toll. The ad trade media have been making polite noises about Y&R New York not winning enough new accounts and Y&R struggling against the macroeconomic climate.

A spokesperson did not return a message requesting comment. In fairness, running the New York office is different from running the North American network, which is different from running the worldwide operating company. They are different jobs with different responsibilities. It’s reasonable and common in the global agency holding company business to have different managers at the different levels.But still, it’s a lot of CEOs. Even if you only count the global CEOs, Y&R switches chiefs every two years.

So many different people have maintained an office at Y&R with the letters “CEO” on the door that it’s difficult to keep them straight. Here’s the list, as best as I can figure it. Please contact me if you know someone I’ve left out:

  • 1993: Ed Vick becomes CEO of Y&R New York, the first of a number of senior roles he took at Y&R, of which at least two contain the CEO title.
  • 1994 – 2000: Peter Georgescu was global CEO of Y&R.
  • August 1999: Tom Bell becomes Y&R’s global CEO, succeeding Peter Georgescu.
  • October 2000: Tom Bell, CEO of the former Y&R Inc., and Peter Stringham, the North American CEO, both leave after the agency is acquired by WPP. Mike Dolan becomes worldwide CEO of “Y&R Group.”
  • October 2001: Ed Vick retires as global CEO. He is succeeded by Mike Dolan.
  • February 2003: Michael Patti becomes CEO of Y&R New York.
  • May 2003: Young & Rubicam worldwide CEO Mike Dolan steps down and is replaced by Ann Fudge.
  • May 2006: Hamish McLennan becomes worldwide CEO. He replaces Ann Fudge.
  • October 2006: Chris Jaques succeeds Gord McLean as North American CEO.
  • January 2007: North American CEO Chris Jaques leaves after just three months in the role. Michael Patti also leaves as New York CEO.
  • February 2007: Peter Stringham returns as CEO of Y&R Brands, the agency’s umbrella body for its collection of agency brands.
  • April 2008:  Tom Sebok becomes North American CEO.
  • March 2010: Jane Barratt arrives as Y&R New York’s “president” and CEO
  • February 2011: David Sable becomes Global CEO of Y&R, replacing Hamish McLennan
  • July 2011: Tom Sebok replaces Jane Barratt as CEO of Y&R New York
  • September 2011: Carter Murray becomes CEO of Y&R North America

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