FCB Resets Top Lineup as Omnicom Eyes Talent

Omnicom appears to be one for two in its efforts to snare top managment at Foote, Cone & Belding for its new Quaker Oats business, which looks to be headed to an offshoot of DDB, sources said.

Brian Williams, president of FCB Chicago, left the shop on Thursday and was in negotiations with DDB executives to oversee the Quaker unit, sources said.

Jonathan Harries, whom sources said DDB also approached, is staying at FCB as chairman of Chicago and worldwide creative director. He in herits the latter post from Geoff Thompson, 58, who is retiring. Harries will run FCB Chicago with Dana Anderson, formerly managing director, who becomes president and CEO.

“I believe this is the strongest team we’ve had in Chicago,” said Brendan Ryan, FCB’s chairman.

The office will need strong leadership in light of losing the $350 million Quaker business, the bulk of which was handled in Chicago. Parent PepsiCo moved the accounts to Omnicom last month, saying the move would save money.

Omnicom has not said where it will place the business, which includes Gatorade, Tropicana and a number of breakfast cereals. Sources said Omnicom agency DDB is setting up a unit to handle the accounts, and that negotiations are being run by DDB worldwide chairman Keith Reinhard and CEO Ken Kaess. Kaess could not be reached, and a DDB representative declined comment.

Williams, who took the top job at FCB Chicago three years ago after a long career at Leo Burnett, also de clined comment last week. But sources said he’s expected to take over the Quaker business for Omnicom. He’s known to be close with Robert Morrison, PepsiCo vice chairman and CEO of Quaker Oats.

Prime candidates to join Williams in the Omni com venture are Martin Sherrod and John Frazier, longtime executives on the Quaker business, sources said.

It’s unclear which FCB creatives will migrate to Quaker.

“There’s no question a lot of people are going to be contacted,” Harries said. “We’ll do whatever it takes. I don’t feel that vulnerable.”