LaGattuta Settles Into New Home at BBDO/Chicago

CHICAGO – Steve LaGattuta, the former W.B. Doner vice chairman who was named BBDO/Chicago’s new president and ceo last month, said he is optimistic about the agency’s new business prospects in Chicago – one of the things that attracted him to the market.
‘I think Chicago is a city with tremendous growth opportunities for an advertising agency,’ LaGattuta said. ‘This is a great city for business. I’ve been all over the country talking to a lot of really talented people and it’s reinforced the sense that you can be anywhere and do great work if you have the right people.’
LaGattuta plans to spend his first year ‘figuring it out.’ He said he’ll talk to his staff to determine what the agency’s strengths and weaknesses are.
‘We are going to get rid of the stuff that’s not working, strengthen the stuff that is and then sharpen our arrow and go out there,’ LaGattuta said. ‘If we see growth in the first year, it’s going to be a fluke, but a welcome one.’
Those changes may be in the area of agency operations, account management, the creative process and product, and how the agency goes about winning new business. It is not clear whether there would still be personnel fallout as a result. The agency laid off 10 people two weeks ago, citing client spending cutbacks.
New business had been slow in coming to the agency under former president/ceo Eric Harkna, who has moved on to assume an international role for BBDO. The agency was up to bat last year on Giant Eagle and Miles Lab Alka Seltzer Plus, but failed to land either account.
‘The agency really put everything it had into the Alka Seltzer pitch and took it very hard when it didn’t win,’ said one source close to the agency. ‘Morale was pretty low.’
LaGattuta has a reputation for being good at new business, a good manager and talented creatively. He came up through the creative ranks at W.B. Doner/Southfield, Mich., the only agency he’s ever worked for prior to joining BBDO. LaGattuta started his career at Doner in 1969 as an art director and rose through the ranks to run a creative staff of 110 as executive creative director for eight years. Major accounts included Little Caesar’s Pizza, Vlasic Foods, Champion Spark Plugs and Eckerd Drugs.
In 1988 LaGattuta was tapped to start the agency’s international division and was named evp/international and business development. He was instrumental in landing several accounts including international clients Chiquita Banana and British Petroleum and domestic clients B.F. Goodrich and Motrin. He left Doner last June, after Doner chairman of the executive committee Herb Fried tapped Jim Dale, and not LaGattuta, to replace him as Doner’s chairman and ceo.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)