Shepard P. Pollack, who for the last two years has served on the agency's board of directors, assumed the position of chairman last week. Previously, he was president and ceo of AMEX Life Assurance Co. and held the post of president of Philip Morris U.S.A. from 1978 to 1984. Cathi Mooney, who had the title of chairman, remains creative director and retains her current responsibilities.
In part, the selection of Pollack is meant to restore balance to the youth of Mandelbaum, now 30, and Mooney, now 33, which had been lost after the death of Don Ashley in 1991. With his grey-flecked beard, Ashley, who was 53 when he died, lent an air of maturity that helped the shop win the confidence of clients. 'It's just been kind of a hole not having someone like Don at the agency,' Mandelbaum said. 'Don was kind of a balancing force for our youth and aggressiveness.'
Pollack, however, brings a different set of skills to the party. As the industry has changed, more clients are reaching out to agencies for business advice, Mandelbaum said. With his expertise drawn from years on the client side, Pollack adds an element of credibility to the $30.5-million shop. Clients are 'looking for partners to help them move their business forward,' Mandelbaum said. I think we were always very good at doing that, but having someone with such a wealth of client-side top management experience brings a new dimension to our capabilities.'
The selection of Pollack follows almost a year of introspection for the firm, fueled in part by its recent new business track record. Though MMA was identified as an early contender, if not a finalist in nearly all of the recent high-profile reviews in Northern California - Foster Farms, BMW Dealers Association, Stuart Anderson's Black Angus Restaurants and Porsche North America - it failed to bring any of those businesses into its fold.
Mandelbaum believes that, in part, is cyclical. By the same token, he said, 'Every time you lose you've got to say, 'Why did we lose and how can we fix that?' '
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)