No More 'Knee-Jerk Reactions' at DraftFCB, Reveals Roth

09 February 2009

NEW YORK: Howard Draft (55, pictured) has stepped sideways at the Interpublic Group agency that bears his name, morphing effortlessly from chief executive to executive chairman.

His former role is filled by the shop's quondam president/coo Laurence Boschetto, also of the same birth vintage, upon whose head now rests the dual crown of president/ceo. 

But as an ancient copywriter once put it: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet."

DraftFCB was created two years ago when Interpublic merged direct-marketing specialist Draft with Foote Cone & Belding after the latter suffered a string of account losses. Since when the shop's fortunes have been mixed, to say the least.

The latest move has arched eyebrows within and beyond the cloistered environs of Madison Avenue, with some observers questioning the wisdom of a leadership change amid the turmoil of recession.

Explains Draft: "Since the merger, I have not been able to spend a lot of time with clients, as much as I should have. That is what I want to focus on now."

He will remain "heavily involved" in the integrated agency, his primary focus directed at strengthening its overseas operations which between them stretch to 161 offices worldwide.

Despite this impressive global network few major multinationals have beat a path to DraftFCB's door – especially the portals of its London and Paris offices.

Interpublic chairman/ceo Michael J Roth could not resist adding his two-cents-worth. "Whenever you do something like this, you always get concerned. No one is putting a gun to our heads and demanding changes," he insists.

Then rushing in where angels fear to tread: "We used to have knee-jerk reactions to everything, but this is just a normal business transition."

So is DraftFCB in difficulties?

Not so, Roth insists. The agency, he says, is on a good footing having enjoyed a "solid" 2008. But he refused to disclose any numbers to the Wall Street Journal.

But according to the newspaper, "people familiar with the matter" were less reticent. These helpful souls told the WSJ that "the agency's revenues grew roughly 3% last year."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff