Heekin Takes First Steps In Larger Plan

Last week’s hiring of Nat Puccio and Suresh Nair as co-global strategic planners is Jim Heekin’s stake in the ground in his vision for the 80 offices of Grey, which he plans to remold into a more collaborative network.

“Grey has not been a cohesive, integrated brand globally, and that’s because there hasn’t been a set of proprietary tools used across the network,” said Heekin, the former McCann and Euro CEO who arrived at Grey Worldwide as CEO two months ago.

As part of his efforts to bring offices and staff together, Heekin is undoing the “village” system that Grey New York has operated under for five years, which involved nine small agencies, each with its own P&L. They were able to notch what he called “respectable” wins over the years, but the groups were so siloed, Heekin said, that even at Grey New York, “people didn’t know each other outside their villages.”

Heekin, whose noncompete with McCann expired in March, said he wants wins of the caliber of those to which Puccio, 50, and Nair, 46, contributed at McCann, such as Verizon Wireless, Intel, Lowe’s, Microsoft and MasterCard—for which they devised the “Priceless” positioning.

Toward that end, he expects to hire a global new business director by year’s end, and in January will form North America and global executive boards to get the different offices to share ideas, resources and work off the proprietary tools Puccio and Nair will create.