Young & Rubicam Gets New NY Prez, Settles Tumult in Dell Account

By Matt Van Hoven 

Enfatico is officially dead. For a long time it was just sick and dying but now it’s gone and we can stop thinking about it. But the job of transferring a $185 million account from the defuncto agency to the very-much living Young & Rubicam must have been monumental. Y&R CMO Mitch Caplan was pulled from his desk to oversee the job. It took 10 months, we hear. He’s done now, and all is seemingly well as Dell preps for a big ole’ summer campaign. Also, the New York shop hired a new president. Still, something doesn’t seem right.

Transitioning the Dell account was a bear, says a source close to the transition team. Last May, Caplan got a call from Dell saying he’d either have to fix it or lose the business. No one would be surprised to get a call like that considering the year of bad news that preceded it &#151 but to be the guy facing the matter is another thing.

Nonetheless, pulling a CMO from his new business duties for 10 months is a big deal. It wasn’t publicized, probably because if Caplan failed the shop would have another issue on its hands &#151 an incapable CMO. Should it be surprising then that Y&R hasn’t reported any big new biz news?

Y&R has everything that Enfatico didn’t. From infrastructure to talent, the shop has the meat and potatoes Dell needs. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the work is or will be amazing. I haven’t seen it. But compared to, well nothing, all Y&R has to do is show up and they’ll have beat their still-born brother at his own game. But showing up means handling a $185 million account with kid gloves. WPP may not be happy that the experiment had to be aborted, but keeping the business despite the failure likely quelled angry shareholders.

Well, kept it for now. The contract is up this year. Don’t forget, this was worth $4.5 billion to WPP. They’re doing everything possible to maintain the relationship, and a campaign is set to launch this summer.

New Boss
Following the promotion of standing president Shelley Diamond to Global Client Leader, the agency has hired Sapient and Euro RSCG alum Jane Barratt as president.

Diamond, a partner, was tapped to “oversee the agency’s worldwide service of Dell, Xerox and Campbell’s.” Her successor is erudite in a statement, saying, “Change is percolating in the flagship office, and I think there’s a real opportunity to leverage Young & Rubicam’s wonderful heritage, solid infrastructure and amazing collection of talent to continue reinventing the ways in which we drive market value for our clients.”

What change could she mean? The shop hasn’t seen any major business wins of late. As mentioned, rolling Dell in house is no small victory &#151 it’s the agency’s second biggest account after Ford, which is handled by Team Detroit. But one gets the sense change is exactly what’s in store for this agency. The only question is: for whom will that fare well, and for whom will it not.