Y&R Detroit President Departs for Wunderman

After nine months as president of Young & Rubicam Detroit, Laurie Null is heading west to take the top job at the Irvine, Calif., office of Y&R’s promotional unit Wunderman.

Null said her replacement will be named in about two weeks.

Null is the third president of the Detroit office in five years. In May, the agency laid off several high-ranking executives, including its COO, while simultaneously making hires in an effort to achieve a “better mix” of employees for clients, Null said at the time.

Null, formerly managing director of Y&R’s Impiric (now Wunderman) division in Detroit, replaced Michael Webster in October. She has been with Y&R for 18 years.

Y&R Detroit is still trying to recover from the loss of 90 percent of its business two years ago, when Ford Motor Co. moved its Lincoln-Mercury operations to California and Y&R followed. The agency’s cornerstone remains Ford, for which it handles Lincoln-Mercury Dealer Association business in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest.

Null will take over at Wunderman Aug. 16. Her title will be managing director and she will supervise a staff of about 150, she said. Null replaces Michael Hughes, who left the company earlier this year. She will report to David Murphy, Y&R president in Irvine.

Null said she had been asked earlier to consider the position but originally planned to stay in Detroit at least long enough to allow her son, a sophomore in high school, to graduate.

“It was a tough decision,” she said. “But we’re growing so fast in Irvine with [Ford’s] Premier Automotive brands out here and Sony and some other things that they really wanted someone who was already a part of the network to come in and run the Wunderman operation.”

Her focus will be to build Wunderman’s relationship marketing expertise and bring the office closer to the Ford network, she said.