WPP Group’s Red Cell network – stitched together earlier this year from to form a $1 billion-billing international agency from several disparate shops [WAMN: 18 & 26-Jan-01] – has been left floundering following the shock defection to D’Arcy of chief executive Luca Linder.

Only days ago, Milan-based Linder told Ad Age Global that persistent rumors of his imminent defection were “absolutely untrue … there is nothing to the story at all”.

Despite Red Cell's high profile launch and proclamation that it would target global “challenger brands” (market entrants opposing dominant rivals) the network has yet to win its first major international account - likely to be a forlorn hope in the expected turbulence that will follow Linder’s exit.

His Milan colleagues appear to be in a state of shock: “Nobody can work after hearing [he] was leaving. It's like someone died,” emoted a distraught staffer.

Linder will head D’Arcy’s European operations, raising inevitable questions as to the future of Red Cell’s keystone client Alfa Romeo.

News source: AdAge Global