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U.S. Ad Agencies Search for Worldly Talent

Adweek reports that in the business of advertising, 'find the leader' requires a map and compass. Andrew Robertson, David Jones, Stephen Gatfield -- these and many others have crossed oceans to run major U.S. agency networks as the industry continues to reach beyond the border for its most senior positions.

Observers credit the trend not only to the well-documented shallow pool of U.S.-bred management talent, but to an increasing demand for executives with global experience and the ability to work across disciplines.

The most recent example of a foreign exec heading to the U.S. is Chris Jaques, a Briton who was CEO of Y&R Asia for the past three years and who starts Friday as CEO of Y&R North America. He succeeds Gordon McLean, a Canadian, who took the new post of global managing partner at the agency.

Jaques was appointed by Hammish McLennan, an Australian who was CEO of Y&R in his native country and New Zealand until June, when he accepted the worldwide CEO job, succeeding U.S.-born Ann Fudge.

Additionally, Publicis Groupe's Fallon is said to be focusing on internal candidates in the agency's search for chairman Pat Fallon's successor, and chief among the names being floated are Britons Robert Senior, who is managing partner of Fallon London and Fallon International president Michael Wall.

Of the "old guard," Robertson, a Zimbabewan who spent most of his career in the U.K., is now worldwide CEO at BBDO; Jones, a Briton who worked in the U.K. and France and ran Euro RSCG's Australia region before joining Euro RSCG as New York CEO, is now worldwide CEO of the network; and Gatfield, now Lowe's CEO, is a U.K. native who ran Leo Burnett in London and Asia Pacific, and who ran its international network from Chicago.

Also on the list is Jean Marie Dru, a Frenchman who is CEO of TBWA; and Brett Gosper, an Australian, who has held senior posts in his native country plus France, Germany and the U.K. at various agencies. He is now president, McCann Erickson U.S.

Gatfield noted that the influx of talent is due partially to the 'types of managers' being churned out in the U.S. firms. Here, he suggested, the industry is too domestically focused. "More growth is coming from emerging markets," he said. "By default rather than by design, people who have done more of the network management in regions have become more attractive -- because they have more global experience."

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