Geier: Heekin’s Promotion Is Not About Grooming Dooner for IPG
NEW YORK–The promotion of Jim Heekin to president and CEO of McCann-Erickson Worldwide last week frees his boss, John Dooner, to chart the future of the company’s global units over the next year.
Heekin, 49, formerly regional director of McCann-Erickson in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, is expected to use his new business savvy to add to an impressive win streak that includes Microsoft, Sprint, Gateway and DuPont.
“I’ve been doing it alone for a while, so it’s nice to have a partner,” said Dooner, who remains chairman and chief executive of McCann-Erickson WorldGroup, a holding company-style unit formed in 1997 to handle McCann’s non-advertising-related businesses, including interactive and healthcare ventures. Dooner said those operations will account for about 34 percent of the network’s business over the next two years.
Heekin, who will move to New York from his London base, will also train his eye on adding more business from one of McCann’s most-sought-after targets: Coca-Cola.
Dooner, 50, who is largely credited with reinvigorating McCann’s global network and strengthening its below-the-line units, appears to be well on the path to succeed Phil Geier as chairman and CEO at McCann’s parent, the Interpublic Group of Cos.
However, sources said that outside candidates may still be considered for the post. Its current occupant has no plans to retire any time soon.
“This promotion is not at all about an IPG succession plan. It’s about putting a guy in charge of agencies,” said Geier, 64, last week. “John [Dooner] likes his job. I like my job.”
Dooner agreed: “This is all about Jim, not about me.”
Geier has been IPG’s CEO since 1980 and is credited with building the holding company into a $4.5 billion powerhouse with a strong profile on Wall Street. IPG’s shares were trading at roughly $83 on Friday, just $3 short of their 52-week high.
The field of internal candidates likely to succeed Geier has, at one time or another, included Dooner as well as Frank Lowe and Martin Puris, the leaders of other IPG-owned units. But Geier insisted last week that the board had “not made up its mind” on any individual candidate.
“No conclusion has been made. There’s just nothing happening right now,” concurred Leif Olsen, president of a financial management firm, and one of six outside directors on
the IPG board.