IPG Names Centrillo Chief Growth Officer

NEW YORK Steve Centrillo, a managing partner at Grey Worldwide’s darkGrey unit, is leaving the agency to join Interpublic Group as chief growth officer, effective June 10, IPG confirmed.

Centrillo, 47, will report to IPG CEO Michael Roth. He replaces Kevin Allen, who relocated to London earlier this year, where he is directing new business efforts for IPG in Europe.

It is a return to the IPG fold for Centrillo, who joined Grey in 2001 from McCann Erickson in New York where he was svp and global account director on Motorola and Labatt USA.

When he joined Grey, Centrillo reported to former New York office president Steve Blamer, who had organized the agency into eight operational “villages,” including darkGrey. That unit’s clients include BellSouth, Nokia, Unisys and Convergys. Centrillo was also COO of Grey’s Atlanta outpost.

Blamer left Grey in January. By then he was CEO of Grey’s North American operations, but sources said that his future as heir apparent to Grey Global Group chairman and CEO Ed Meyer became murky with WPP Group’s $1.5 billion acquisition of Grey in March.

Blamer is joining IPG’s Foote Cone & Belding as worldwide CEO on June 16. He could not be reached for comment.

Centrillo was unavailable for comment as was a Grey representative.

But in an internal memo to staffers, Meyer acknowledged Centrillo’s departure: “While we are sorry to see Steve leave after four highly productive years at Grey, we understand that this is an opportunity for him to work at the holding company level in a new position, and we wish him well.”

He also said darkGrey’s clients have been informed and that he has “every confidence” in the ability of darkGrey’s remaining managing partners, Dave Tutin and David Duncan, to service those clients.

In a related development, John Crosson, president of Grey’s Los Angeles office, confirmed that he would be stepping down for personal reasons in the next few months and that the search for his successor is currently underway [Adweek Online, May 24].

Grey/L.A. evp and ecd Bob Merlotti said Crosson’s replacement may be on the level of a managing partner.

This story updates a previously posted item with news of Crosson’s resignation.