SRI’s Wohlwerth Joins A-Team

BOSTON Former Select Resources International president Russel Wohlwerth has joined A-Team Advertising Advisors as its fifth principal, where he is tasked with helping to build the consultancy’s agency search business, the company said.

Wohlwerth, who will be based in Los Angeles, last week left SRI after six years [Adweek Online, July 18].

At year-old A-Team, Wohlwerth will oversee the search practice with principal Ann Billock.

“The agency search process has not kept pace with the times,” Wohlwerth said, in a statement. “The marketing world is experiencing massive upheaval. Things are very different today from what they were just five years ago. Yet the agency search process is stuck in the early 1990s. A-Team embraces my belief in the need to revolutionize search.”

Wohlwerth said he would take a more “consultative approach” to searches, recognizing that clients require customized solutions when choosing agency partners, though he did not elaborate.

Sources said his departure from consultancy SRI in Santa Monica, Calif., stemmed from a dispute with its CEO, Catherine Bension, though Wohlwerth in a statement last week said they parted “on the best of terms and there is no credence to any of the stories previously reported in the media.”

Wohlwerth was responding to reports in which media outlets cited unnamed sources suggesting that he and Bension were feuding over compensation and accounting practices that would artificially lower the consultancy’s income, diminishing the value of company founder Mike Agate’s buyout.

Bension last week characterized Wohlwerth’s departure as “something Russel initiated—it was his decision. It was about nothing specific.”

SRI has recently led reviews for BMW, Intel and Sony. A-Team has conducted searches for clients such as Coty, and also helped JetBlue negotiate its contract with WPP Group’s JWT last November.

Bill Nicholson, A-Team principal and managing partner, said Wohlwerth “brings a valuable perspective about the business. And his style and ethics match our own.”

Nicholson is based in New York, as is Billock. Peter Gerritsen (in Boston) and Jerry Gibbons (San Francisco) are A-Team’s other principals.