Saatchi N.Y. Goes With Joint CEOs

NEW YORK Saatchi & Saatchi’s three-year experiment with a managing partnership is about to end. Effective Jan. 1, the New York shop will be led by Scott Gilbert and Mike Burns as joint chief executive officers, the agency confirmed.

Previously, Gilbert and Burns were managing partners, along with Tod Seisser and Tom Lom. Seisser will now focus on his duties as New York chief creative officer, although he will continue to have a hand in management decisions.

Lom, the top executive on Saatchi’s now departed Johnson & Johnson business, is expected to shift to another Publicis Groupe shop within its healthcare communications division, such as Nelson Communications, said sources. Lom declined comment.

Saatchi worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts established the managing partnership in 2000, following the exits of North American CEO Jennifer Laing and vice chairman Tony Dalton. It began with eight managing partners and over time got whittled down to four, as Roberts was unable to recruit a New York CEO.

Gilbert, the former CEO of Saatchi’s office in Torrance, Calif., came east last spring to manage day-to-day operations and help generate new business. Burns, a Saatchi veteran, is responsible for overseeing the shop’s global General Mills account.

Roberts, who could not be reached, revealed the new titles in a staff memo. The purpose, he wrote, was to “provide more streamlined leadership focus.” The management move comes as Saatchi looks to rebound from the $200 million J&J loss, which triggered a staff cut of 7-9 percent [Adweek Online, Dec. 17].