Heekin Unveils New Grey Structure

Two weeks after cutting 7 percent of the Grey New York staff, worldwide CEO Jim Heekin last week lifted the veil slightly on his agency’s new structure for the remaining 600 employees.

By dismantling the “village system,” which had nine separate P&Ls, in favor of a centralized management team, he hopes to give agency disciplines more heft to compete for global accounts. The new structure also draws operating companies such as Grey Direct, G2 and Grey Interactive closer to his control. Those shops are part of Grey Synchronized Partners, led by Joe Celia, who reports to Grey chairman Ed Meyer. Heekin was Meyer’s choice to lead Grey soon after it was acquired by WPP Group last March. Meyer has headed Grey since 1970.

Now 79, Meyer has pulled back from day-to-day agency business, sources said. Meyer’s WPP contract ends in December, with options to renew a year at a time. He could not be reached for comment, and Grey declined comment on his future.

Heekin has organized the flagship under five creatives, led by North America chief creative Tim Mellors, and five account executives, whom he leads. Besides ecds Jonathan Rodgers and Rob Baiocco, the rest of the team remained undisclosed. “Both Grey advertising and [GSP] will use [shared planning tools] to sell their services and speak to clients in a common language, whatever the task—traditional advertising or interactive or point-of-sale,” Heekin said.

Since he joined the $1.5 billion Grey Worldwide in September, the U.S. network has added about $135 million in billings and lost about $80 million.

Meanwhile, the fate of Grey’s 15-person L.A. office hangs in the balance as its largest client, BMW’s Western Region dealers, “evaluates the changes in Grey’s [West Coast] management,” said Karen Vonder Meulen, BMW’s manager of marketing and events communications. Grey and Publicis declined comment.