New Saatchi Team Readies for Laing, Dalton Exits

The management partnership Saatchi & Saatchi has formed to run the North American operation—following the departure of Jennifer Laing and Tony Dalton—takes its cue from the structures of management consultancies and could become a model for Saatchi outside the U.S.

“I’m eager and anxious to give it a roll,” said worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts. “I’m pretty keen to see it succeed as a long-term thing.”

The eight executives in the partnership will carry the title of managing partner: Julie Bauer, Tod Seisser, Mike Popernik, Keith Bunnell, Mike Burns, Tom Lom, Tim Love and Marie McNeely. Bauer is president of the San Francisco office, Seisser is chief creative officer in New York, and Popernik is chief financial officer for North America. The others hold senior account management posts.

The move takes effect Dec. 1, after Laing, chairman and CEO, and Dalton, vice chairman, leave Saatchi. A team for 17 years, the two are returning to their native England. Dalton, 64, in-tends to breed and race horses, while Laing, 53, plans to find a new job after a few months off.

Publicis’ $1.9 billion acquisition of Saatchi, completed last week, was a “catalyst” for the move, but Laing said the decision was largely per-sonal. “There is no better time to hand over the baton,” she said. “It did come as a surprise to people, but they understand.”

Roberts, who revealed the re-structuring in an internal memo last Tuesday, said: “Jennifer has left a legacy of good people, great client relationships and a terrific reel.” He credited Dalton with “helping to turn around San Francisco.”

As part of the Publicis deal, Roberts signed a five-year contract to run Saatchi, and he plans to spend two weeks per month in New York. He is being joined by worldwide creative director Bob Isherwood and chairman international Alan Bishop, who are relocating from London, as Saatchi shifts its global headquarters to New York [Adweek, Sept. 4].