Steve Harty Exits BBH

Steve Harty, group chairman of Bartle Bogle Hegarty in the U.S., is leaving the shop after five years.

Word of his exit comes a month after General Motors dismissed the New York agency on its Cadillac brand and five months after Harty (pictured) shifted to the group role, with an eye toward expanding the shop’s capabilities, in part through acquisitions. Before that, he had been North American chairman of BBH.

Back in February, the Publicis Groupe-backed shop also named a new CEO (Greg Andersen) and a new agency chairman (Emma Cookson). Before that, Cookson had been CEO and Andersen managing director.

The loss of a significant account and other factors, however, prompted the shop to reconsider its expansion plans and concentrate on its core operations. Other major clients include Ally bank and Unilever.

In a statement, the agency said: “In current market conditions, BBH global management has decided that its immediate priority is to focus on strengthening the integrated agency offering through organic growth and continued partnerships.”

Harty, 58, joined the agency in September 2005. Before that, he was managing partner of Interpublic Group’s Plus Consulting Group in New York. Earlier in his career, Harty co-founded Omnicom Group’s Merkley Newman Harty, also in New York.

Looking back on his five years at BBH, Harty said, “I think we accomplished a lot during that period. It has been a great team and I’m leaving with great regret and huge admiration for the agency.”

“In terms of going forward,” Harty added, “I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what clients need from an integrated agency offering [perspective]. There are few agencies that, for a number of reasons, can really make an integrated offering. And in the future, I’d like to help create a successful one.”

BBH worldwide CEO Simon Sherwood said Harty leaves the agency with the “immense respect and gratitude from his U.S and global management colleagues for all that he has done.”