Ann Fudge is nominally still chairman/ceo of WPP Group's Young & Rubicam operations. But her hand has been knocked from the tiller of its flagship worldwide agency unit Y&R Advertising.

The move was confirmed Friday in the wake of a string of recent client defections from the former bluechip agency - most notably Jaguar Cars.

Although Jaguar's annual $100 million (€77.35m; £52.83m) account was not the most valuable of other high profile exits (Burger King, Computer Associates and Sony Electronics), insiders say it had the most emotional significance for WPP Group ceo Sir Martin Sorrell - who reputedly feels a divine right to oversee the advertising of all Ford Motor Company's major brands.

The loss was "particularly infuriating" to Sorrell, reports the Wall Street Journal, which had earlier predicted that Fudge would be sidelined to a solely corporate role. She will continue to lead the parent company; even (and this is piquant even by adland standards) the search for her own successor.

Fudge, recruited from Kraft Foods in 2003 and seen at the time as the potential saviour of the underperforming agency, will continue to helm Y&R at group level - the main components of which are PR network Burson-Marsteller and the Wunderman direct marketing business.

  • Separately, Y&R has moved to fill the gap left by the recent defection of European chairman/ceo William Eccleshare, who left to take a mirror role at BBDO Worldwide [WAMN: 13-Apr-05]. The job goes to Massimo Costa, currently chairman of Y&R's Italian operations.

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