Avrett, Free Names New President

Stuart Grau is taking the new position of president at Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, but don’t expect him to move into the top spot anytime soon, said its chairman and CEO.

“I’m not going anywhere,” said Frank Ginsberg, 58, dismissing the suggestion that Grau’s promotion to the No. 2 position at the agency amounts to a succession plan for the New York shop.

Grau, 44, was made president because of his knowledge of account planning (he started the agency’s account-planning department in the early 1990s) and of the shop’s methods (he has written a book on the subject), Ginsberg said.

“All of this is a terrific help in new-business acquisition and retention of clients,” Ginsberg said.

Keeping his title as chief strategy officer, Grau will add new-business chores from Ginsberg. He joined the agency in 1989 as an account director after consulting with the shop on a new-business pitch for a low-cholesterol egg. In the end, the agency did not win the pitch and the FDA did not approve the product. But Ginsberg hired Grau full time.

Grau played a role in the agency’s win earlier this month of Webster Bank $4 million creative account, formerly at Mintz & Hoke in Avon, Conn. Other clients include Lugz and Van Cleef & Arpels.

“Frank has built a solid infrastructure with existing clients and new capabilities in terms of Interpublic,” Grau said. (Avrett joined IPG in 2001 after the holding company absorbed True North.) “Everything is aligned correctly.”

Ginsberg has been a partner in the agency since 1982, when the name was changed from Avrett, Free & Fisher to Avrett, Free & Ginsberg.

James Streit, director of account planning, and Naomi Mersky, senior account planner, will take over some of Grau’s strategic duties.