Saatchi & Saatchi's civil lawsuit against former General Mills account chief Mike Burns has reached the discovery phase, with lawyers this month issuing subpoenas to potential witnesses and both sides awaiting a judge's ruling on Burns' motion to dismiss the case.
Lawyers for both sides have submitted briefs on the motion and last month made oral arguments before state Supreme Court Judge Herman Cahn; a ruling is expected in September.
Meanwhile, the 17 ex-Saatchi staffers on General Mills, whom Burns is accused of leading out the door in February, have been pitching business as a new unit of Interpublic Group for five months, with little to show for their efforts so far. Sources said they have landed a creative and strategic project, but unit leader Anne Adriance declined comment, as did IPG.
IPG is said to have invested $3.5 million in the group, which includes account management, creative and planning executives and positions itself as a specialist in brands related to youth, family, health and wellness. The so-called Saatchi 17 occupy space in the midtown offices of IPG's Lowe but operate on their own.
IPG hired the 17 with the hope that General Mills business would follow—but executives there aren't counting on that any longer, given the lawsuit and extra attention Saatchi has given Big G in recent months, such as naming new creative and account leaders on the $550 million account.