LOS ANGELES Jim Harrington, former president of Foote, Cone & Belding Southern California, has abandoned plans to return to the shop's New York headquarters and has instead joined O'Leary and Partners as president.
Harrington, 42, had worked at Interpublic Group's FCB and predecessor agencies, including Bozell Worldwide, for 16 years. In June, FCB announced that Harrington would relinquish the presidency of the Irvine, Calif., office and would move to New York to work on special projects with FCB Worldwide CEO Brendan Ryan and Gene Bartley, COO of FCB North America [Adweek Online, June 12].
"The game plan for me always was that I would move back," said Harrington, who in 1998 moved from Bozell in New York to become general manager of Bozell's Costa Mesa, Calif., office. Following the alignment of Bozell offices under the FCB banner, Harrington became president of FCB Southern California in March 2000. "I never expected I would really love living in Southern California." He said the opportunity with O'Leary and Partners in Irvine was "the answer to my dreams."
Harrington starts in his new position on Sept. 2. He is reunited with Scott Mongtomery, who left FCB in June 2001 and now serves as executive creative director at O'Leary and Partners. Dave Robinson, who has served as president of the advertising and public relations agency, has been elevated to CEO. Agency founder Steve O'Leary continues as chairman of the 52-person shop, which has nearly $75 million in billings and works with clients such as In-N-Out Burger, National Association of Realtors, Fantastic Sams, DriveTime, American Racing Equipment and Conoco/Phillips.
Robinson said the agency had not been seeking a new president. "We weren't looking to fill the position, but we do try to take advantage of great opportunities," Robinson said. "We've made huge improvements on the creative side with Scott and Mike Hall [vice president, creative director, who joined in March 2002] and we've been accelerating our growth." Of Harrington, Robinson said, "He's so good and so well known in the marketplace. We had observed FCB's success in the marketplace since he had gotten there. He brings an awful lot of great skills in terms of account management."
During his career, Harrington has managed communications programs for companies including Procter & Gamble, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Nabisco, Hilton Hotels, TaylorMade-adidas and The New York Times.
Harrington said the idea of joining O'Leary "happened over beers one afternoon," when he was having lunch with Montgomery. "I hadn't thought of a small agency, but they're great people, they're incredibly talented and I was more excited about the entrepreneurial opportunities this gave me," he said. "This is a great time for me to start something new and it allows me to stay in Southern California."
FCB is currently seeking a president for its Irvine office. In the interim, FCB North America chief financial officer Neil Miller is overseeing the office.