GLOBAL BRIEF: APL looks close to home for strategic successor. The US shop has replaced the ’man from McKinsey’, Francesca Newland writes

Eight short months ago, when Rick Hadala left McKinsey to become chairman and chief executive of Ammirati Puris Lintas North America, many an advertising agency went off to do some soul searching. It was time for some serious analysis of the appropriate stance to take in the face of ever-encroaching management consultancies.

Eight short months ago, when Rick Hadala left McKinsey to become

chairman and chief executive of Ammirati Puris Lintas North America,

many an advertising agency went off to do some soul searching. It was

time for some serious analysis of the appropriate stance to take in the

face of ever-encroaching management consultancies.



Yet Hadala’s sudden departure last week enhanced rather than erased the

general agency fear of consultancies. APL’s brave ploy to defend its

capability as a strategic adviser against the likes of McKinsey has

clearly not worked.



The agency says it plans to continue with its integrated strategy,

combining strategic work with more traditional advertising, but this

time it will be under the stewardship of an adman. James Allman has been

appointed chairman and chief executive of the New York office. Most

recently Allman was worldwide account director for Unilever, based in

London, but he has also been chairman of APL’s Latin America division

and its Italian office.



Allman explains: ’APL has an extremely strong strategic planning

competence in New York. We felt we should build on this strength and

hopefully get clients to pay for a service that is not necessarily

linked to an advertising campaign.’ He has every intention of continuing

the drive for strategic integration: ’The concept is not wrong, it’s

just that the person did not work out. But it’s business as usual.’



Hadala’s appointment last year was accompanied by a plethora of positive

PR from the mouths of the network’s top dogs. APL’s chairman and chief

executive, Martin Puris, said the move was an attempt to expand the

agency’s capabilities. ’The future of communications is a lot broader

than traditional advertising,’ he commented at the time.



He outlined Hadala’s task as looking broadly at brand-building concepts

for clients, starting with product strategy, then a marketing plan and

finally a communications strategy.



The question is whether Hadala’s unpopularity at APL was because he was

attempting to bring about the kind of change that would lead to a better

strategic offer, or if, as the agency makes out, he simply did not get

along with existing management.



Most likely a bit of both. A statement from Puris on Hadala’s departure

said: ’Rick’s strategic consulting skills are formidable and his efforts

to bring change to APL have been appreciated, but differences of opinion

arose that were found to be irreconcilable.’



Perhaps it’s less embarrassing to admit to irreconcilable differences

than it is to a failed attempt at improved integration.



Certainly, Hadala’s departure was swift. Steve Rabosky, who crossed

paths with him in New York for a short spell before he moved to the UK

as chief creative officer, says: ’Most people were surprised that it

happened.’



He adds: ’Sometimes when the personalities clash it is better to cut it

quick than to let it linger.’



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