NEW YORK Grey chief executive officer Jim Heekin has made his first senior hires by tapping top planners Nat Puccio, 50, and Suresh Nair, 46, of Interpublic Group's McCann Erickson to join as executive vice presidents and co-directors of global strategic planning, a Grey representative confirmed. Both positions are new at the agency here.
Heekin brought both to McCann in the mid-1990s, when he was CEO there, luring them from his previous employer JWT.
The planning team has been credited with McCann's success on various new-business wins and campaigns, especially its "Priceless" work for MasterCard. They also worked on Intel, Kohl's, Motorola, Lowe's, Capital One and Wendy's.
They start at Grey in New York on Dec. 12 and report to Heekin.
Heekin assumed the worldwide CEO job at WPP Group's Grey in September. He had previously been CEO of Havas' Euro RSCG.
In a statement, Heekin called Puccio and Nair "the two finest idea leaders in the industry." He added, "Hiring two planning superstars as my first global hires is a sign of Grey's clear commitment to developing the best planning group in the world. It is also a sign of our intention to become an agency known for world-class creative."
He said they will work closely with Grey North America chief creative Tim Mellors, who joined the agency 18 months ago.
To replace Puccio and Nair, McCann said it has promoted Devika Bulchandani and John Kottmann to evps, co-directors of strategic planning for McCann's flagship New York office. Bulchandani, 36, had been svp, group planning director and Kottman, 38, was evp, group director of strategic planning.
They now report to McCann Erickson USA president Brett Gosper. Along with Tammy Hwang, who Gosper named director of strategic initiatives for McCann North America, they will assume the duties Puccio and Nair had handled, leading a department of more than 30 staffers. Hwang, 37, will also continue as svp, group director of strategic planning at the New York office.
In a statement, Gosper praised all three, saying their "qualities of analytic insight and imagination are the hallmarks of first-rate strategic planners. They have contributed significantly in helping our global and national clients."