MVBMS Ends Flat Structure

Berger Is Shop’s First CEO; 10 Partners Promoted
NEW YORK–With three of its founding partners stepping back from day-to-day operations, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG is altering its flat management structure for the first time. The new configuration brings MVBMS closer to a traditional agency hierarchy.
Come January, Louise McNamee, Tom Messner and Barry Vetere will assume general consulting duties on some of the agency’s key clients, while Ron Berger will ascend to CEO. The move puts a single executive in charge of the shop for the first time in its 11-year history. Berger will remain the agency’s chief creative officer. Previously, MVBMS’ founding partners presided over the shop together, with no single individual at the top.
The agency has tapped 10 partners to serve as managing directors under Berger, with more direct responsibilities for specific functions and clients. They will assume the duties now handled by McNamee, Messner and Vetere. The famously long name of the agency, which continues to have 23 partners, will not change.
Since its founding in 1987, MVBMS achieved remarkable growth with what was long touted as one of the more novel partnership structures in the industry. Berger insists that despite the “refinement,” MVBMS will be unique. “The fundamental structure remains a partnership, and that isn’t going to change,” he said. Lines of authority will become clearer, however, McNamee added.
The changes, which the founding partners began discussing seven months ago, were made in part because the agency had grown too big for its organizational format, Berger said. This year, the shop has added $400 million in billings to increase its total to roughly $1.2 billion.
McNamee’s departure will likely have the greatest impact on day-to-day management of the company. She played a strong role in running the agency, as well as account management and new client pitches, sources said.
Once the changes take effect, Berger will be the only founding partner with a daily hands-on role. Bob Schmetterer dropped his MVBMS responsibilities when he became chief executive of Euro RSCG in April 1997.
The agency has also elevated partner Denis Glennon to managing director, worldwide agency affiliations, a new job designed to help MVBMS work with other shops in the Euro RSCG network. In the last year, the network–led by MVBMS–has produced global campaigns for Philips, MCI WorldCom and Volvo.
Larry Dexheimer adds the new title of managing director, agency operations; Tom Carroll is managing director, business development. Partner and worldwide managing director Joanne Tilove has oversight for MCI WorldCom. The remaining six managing directors supervise the creative department.