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DraftFCB must seize chance to be a top-tier player

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DraftFCB has received the Interpublic shock treatment. Last year, the holding company attempted to resuscitate the sister ad network McCann Worldwide, replacing the ousted chief executive, Nick Brien,  with a PR man, Harris Diamond.

Now, DraftFCB’s chief executive, Laurence Boschetto, makes way for Carter Murray, the 38-year-old UK-born president and chief executive of Y&R North America. Boschetto was reported back in 2011 as saying: "My first goal on being appointed CEO was to ensure DraftFCB was no longer a second-tier player. We’ve done well but there’s  plenty still to do." Sadly for the network, this still seems to be the case.

Following the loss of its global $1 billion SC Johnson account and its MillerCoors business, the network appeared to stagnate. Even when it won big, the results weren’t always triumphant. It captured the global Beiersdorf business, but its ads for Nivea, featuring Rihanna, were subsequently pilloried by the brand’s chief executive for threatening its family image and the singer was dropped.

The 2006 merger of Draft Worldwide and FCB might have seemed a good idea in the heads of the accountants who created it. Yet few clients have bought into its integrated model and the merged network appears to have lacked energy and focus at the top.

McCann is turning a corner and hiring again after retrenchment last year. Now DraftFCB needs to pick itself up and start fighting

There is hope, though. Mainly because IPG has rebounded well from the travails of recent times. Its shares were trading last week at close to $13, well above the price of $9 that is thought to have tempted predators such as Publicis Groupe to consider an offer.

Using the proceeds from the sale of its stake in Facebook to buy back shares has helped boost the stock. Observers also suggest the chief executive, Michael Roth, has played a blinder in working his charms on a coterie of five or six major investors in IPG to support his turnaround plan for the advertising unit that houses McCann and DraftFCB.

The word, in Europe at least, is that McCann is turning a corner and hiring again after retrenchment last year. Now DraftFCB needs to pick itself up and start fighting. New business is expected to be its priority and Murray’s background in business development at Leo Burnett and Publicis should prove an asset. It is anticipated that the mercurial executive chairman, Howard Draft, will also put his shoulder to the wheel in a bid to bring in new clients. Closer to home, good news is needed soon.

Kate Howe, its regional president in Europe, and her team require greater support if they are to populate their business with big brands. A creative director in London is expected to be announced imminently, but the impact, or not, of the new global leader is vital as DraftFCB looks to prove its relevance in the capital.

ian.darby@haymarket.com         
@darbs73

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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