SAN FRANCISCO-McCann-Erickson/A&L has recruited Barrie Hedge, co-founder of Angotti, Thomas, Hedge, to help grapple with its massive Microsoft account.
With a staff of 350, including about 100 new hires, the San Francisco shop needed "more senior management firepower," said Nick Bishop, managing director.
In the new position of chairman, Hedge, 52, will help Bishop co-manage the merged office as the latter takes on more responsibility managing Microsoft's growing global business.
The agency will break the first phase of an estimated $300 million U.S. branding effort for Microsoft as soon as this week, sources said.
In the middle of the dot.com frenzy, the shop instituted a new-business moratorium six months ago to concentrate on Microsoft and a handful of smaller, pre-merger McCann clients.
Hedge, who is commuting from his home in New York, hopes to restart new-business efforts soon after the first of the year. "We don't want this agency to be dominated by Microsoft." he said.
A big part of his job, he said, is to "open up the agency to the extraordinary changes and opportunities" in the marketplace. San Francisco is the epicenter of those changes, he said, and the office there can be "a beacon" of progressive agency thinking and a "blueprint" for the rest of the McCann network.
"We couldn't perform this experiment in New York because it is too big of a machine," he said.
Observers close to the agency, however, question how much autonomy New York headquarters will give the merged office, including the tools to help it attract and retain key talent. -with Andrew McMain