Y&R Begins Quest for Worldwide CD

New YORK—Young & Rubicam has begun a search to replace Ted Bell, the agency’s worldwide creative director since 1993.

Bell, 53, took a leave of absence earlier this year to pursue other interests, including writing [Adweek, May 29]. More recently, Bell, who now lives in Palm Beach, Fla., confirmed that he would not return.

The mission of the new worldwide creative director: Raise the level of creativity at Y&R’s 339 offices across the globe and contribute to global new-business efforts, according to agency president Linda Srere, who is leading the search.

“We need this position because we need to make the work better,” Srere said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Bell’s successor will focus on “key corporate accounts”—global clients that are serviced by multiple units in multiple markets, Srere said. She declined to specify a time-table for finding a new worldwide creative director, saying only, “However long it takes.”

The search begins as Y&R adapts to life under WPP, which has sought to cut costs and create synergies between the New York-based agency and other WPP units. Since October, when WPP’s $4.7 billion takeover took root, scores of staffers have been laid off or left—both on the corporate level and within advertising, said sources. More cuts are expected.

At the same time, Y&R is completing a seesaw year in which it lost accounts such as the U.S. Army, H&R Block and Citibank (for which it still handles direct duties), and won Xenical, Balance Bar and Computer Associates, among others.

The shop is currently defending Ericsson and Metropolitan Life, and is awaiting a decision on its pitch for The Vanguard Group—a $30-40 million account that Deutsch, here, is also pursuing, according to sources.

Bell, who came to Y&R from Leo Burnett, helped lead a new-business turnaround from 1995-98, which produced wins such as AT&T, Campbell’s and Sony Electronics. He is also credited with developing the creative mantra of “inspired simplicity” and recruiting Jim Ferguson, the chief creative officer in New York.