An executive committee has been named to run Archer/Malmo as part of a restructuring that includes the buyout of chief executive officer Ward Archer Jr.
Committee members are president Russ Wil-liams, creative director Gary Backaus and executive vice presidents Cynthia Ham and Mary Caywood. They have assumed day-to-day management duties at the Memphis, Tenn., agency.
Senior vice presidents Buddy Boswell and Jay Cooper are among the six stockholders participating in the buyout, which is expected to extend over the next five years.
Archer, whose father founded the independent shop in 1952, becomes chairman. He will continue to work on client business
"I've seen disasters where agencies didn't have a succession plan," said Archer. "You've just got to have one. These people are driving the company forward, and I need to give them the reins."
The agency, whose billings approached $60 million in 2000, has developed high-powered public relations and direct marketing capabilities after a 1991 merger with crosstown rival John Malmo Advertising.
Part of the restructuring in-cludes moving Archer/Malmo from a divisional to what Williams calls a client-centric approach.
"We've torn down the silos," said Williams, who, according to the transition plan, becomes Archer's heir apparent.
"Strategically, it was smart to build a critical mass in each of these disciplines," said Williams. "Now we're better off integrating. It allows us to better meet the needs of our clients."
The next challenge is physically and psychologically restructuring the 90-person shop to more effectively meet clients' demands.
"We need to be more flexible," Williams said. "Some clients want integrated marketing; others may not want public relations or data-base. Now we can custom-build [account] teams."
Williams arrived at Archer/Malmo last year after stints at Kraft Foods and Storage USA, both in Memphis.