Krause’s work cut out for him

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JWT president Barry Krause

New J. Walter Thompson president Barry Krause Monday settled into the corner office on the 25th floor of the 900 N. Michigan Building, overlooking the Michigan Avenue he has known intimately for 26 years.

Krause heads an office with $601 million in billings, the city’s fourth largest agency. It’s owned by London-based WPP Group plc, itself the world’s fourth largest agency network. His staff now numbers about 160, down 10% from two weeks earlier. Phone calls from New York gave 18 staffers the bad news.

Broadcast and print production took the biggest hits. Executive producer Wil Wilcox and producer Debbie Heagy are gone, and so is print production director Mary Day.

Matt Canzano, a creative director on Kraft cheese and enhancers unit (Kraft singles, Miracle Whip, Breakstone’s and Grey Poupon) also got his walking papers. Interim replacement is group CD Toby Barlow, from JWT-New York. Barlow, the choice of EVP/ECD Rick Kemp, will remain with the unit until a permanent successor is found.

The production department cuts, said EVP/ECD Rick Kemp, “were the first step to make room” for responding to the client challenge of whether the agency had “the capability to execute flawlessly” and prove that, indeed, it can.

Now, instead of tapping producers from a pool to work on whatever assignment comes up for which they are best suited, the agency reverted to a three team system. Each team will work exclusively on specific brands assigned to the unit.

New executive producers — and consider the distinct possibily they could come from New York ? would then have greater responsibility over the quality of their work.

Krause has his work cut out for him in keeping long-time Kraft Foods and Miller Genuine Draft under the JWT umbrella. Both are under heavy competitive fire that could culminate in the noisiest shootouts of the year between JWT and FCB and JWT and O&M.

Last year, Kraft moved one of its cheese accounts to FCB down the street while Miller’s new South African owners gave part of the MGD to Ogilvy & Mather across the river.

(In case you’ve lost track of what European holding company owns what Chicago agency, O&M and JWT share the same parentage. Interpublic owns FCB.)

Krause should be ble to handle his new job with skill and energy. He had been CEO of Publicis Mid-America and its predecessor Hal Riney Midwest. After Publicis bought Leo Burnett and closed Publicis office here, Krause went to New York as chairman/CEO of Publicis New York, the French company’s U.S. headquarters. Earlier, he spent 15 years at Leo Burnett.

He said he believes “JWT has the greatest upside potential of any agency in Chicago,” adding, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to shape its future.”

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