Grey Recruits Creative Talent

NEW YORK–After promising to “focus on the creative product” when he arrived a year ago, Steve Blamer is poised to hire a new creative leader for Grey’s flagship office here.

The president of the $3.2 billion New York headquarters hopes to have the new recruit in the top post by mid-April, sources said.

The new chief creative officer will replace Steve Novick, 60, who’s held that post for more than a decade. At that time, Novick will fully assume his responsibilities as vice chairman of holding company Grey Global Group.

Blamer, who is conducting the search with the help of creative recruiters, is known to have reached out to Lee Garfinkel, formerly of Lowe Lintas & Partners, and Bill Oberlander, who left Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners in November, among others.

Oberlander declined comment; Garfinkel could not be reached.

Blamer would not comment on potential candidates, saying whoever is hired will have “a great opportunity to change the perception of the agency,” whose client roster is heavy with conservative, packaged-goods clients such as Procter & Gamble and M&M/Mars. He or she will be able to “put their mark on something and run it in a true partnership,” he added. Blamer would not comment on timing, adding that with Novick in place there is no urgency to fill the post.

Blamer became president of the New York office last April after two years leading Grey in London, where he partnered with Tim Mellors. The pair was credited with improving the shop’s creative product and boosting billings from $450 million to about $685 million from 1998-2000.

Blamer is also preparing to reorganize the agency along the same lines he established in London: More ecds will be added, each heading a team with an account director and planner. Grey has four ecds–Dave Tutin, Mark Schwatka, Bob Skollar and Rob Baiocco–who report to Novick.