Spivak Leverages Contract Clause To Jump JWT Ship

NEW YORK: Helayne Spivak, worldwide creative director at J. Walter Thompson, last Thursday took advantage of a financially attractive exit clause in her contract triggered by the departure of New York chief executive officer Susan Gianinno, who left Oct. 30.
The clause, which sources termed a “suicide pact,” stipulated that should Gianinno be fired, Spivak could resign from the agency within 30 days but be compensated for a certain length of time as if she had also been fired.
Chris Jones, chief executive officer of JWT Worldwide, would not discuss the terms of Spivak’s contract. “We knew she and Susan were close We weren’t seeking Helayne’s departure,” he said. Gianinno had recommended Spivak for the JWT post, which she took a year ago after leaving Ammirati Puris Lintas.
Spivak’s resignation comes after she had assured JWT management and staff in an internal memorandum dated Oct. 21 that she intended to remain at the agency to do “important and exciting things.”
Last week Spivak said, “I found it necessary to remove myself from a situation which unfortunately was becoming increasingly difficult in which to function.” She would not elaborate.
Spivak’s departure came exactly one week after Gianinno abruptly left the agency in a move that JWT said was “mutual.”
Jones said Spivak, who also held the title of chief creative officer, North America, would not be replaced in her dual role. Jones said J.J. Jordan and Tod Seisser, co-creative directors, will run the New York creative department. Larry Tolpin and Allen Thomas remain the other two worldwide creative directors.