Chris Jones, the chief executive of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, the world's fourth-largest advertising agency network, has left the network for health reasons.
He is succeeded by Peter Schweitzer, 61, who will add the post of chief executive to his role as president. Schweitzer has been the senior executive on JWT's largest account, Ford, for many years. He will divide his time between JWT's New York HQ and Detroit, where Ford is based.
Jones, 45, who joined JWT in 1984 from Saatchi & Saatchi where he started his career, said: 'I am immensely proud of the 16 years I have spent at JWT and of having had the opportunity to lead the business. I look forward to watching JWT and WPP enjoy continued success in the future.'
Jones has been ill twice in the past two years, undergoing various operations on his eye in 1999 and for a blood clot in his chest in March this year. He was at home on sick leave when he stepped down.
Martin Sorrell, the group chief executive of WPP, said that the business had performed well in recent years. He said that Jones had broadened its base into non-advertising areas, brought in good people and presided over the two best years in the agency's history for new business in 1999 and 2000.
Net new-business wins for the third-quarter of last year were more than dollars 600 million, thanks to account wins that included KPMG, Sun Microsystems, I-Planet, as well as numerous digital branding assignments.
Sorrell said: 'Chris has made a lasting contribution to JWT, both during his tenure as CEO and during his long service to JWT in the United Kingdom and continental Europe.'
Schweitzer said: 'We begin this new era with a solid financial foundation and an accomplished team in place for us to continue to build the company's future.'
Charlotte Beers, JWT's worldwide chairman, is also leaving when her contract expires next month. 'We have no plans to hire a chairman,' Sorrell said.
TRIBUTES FROM CLIENTS
'Chris Jones has made an outstanding contribution to Unilever through his work with JWT and will be sorely missed by all of us.' Niall FitzGerald, chairman, Unilever
'Chris has made great contributions to the Kellogg Company over the years. He has gained the professional and personal respect of all with whom he has worked. We will miss him greatly.' Carlos Gutierrez, chief executive officer, Kellogg Company
'All of us at Merrill Lynch will miss Chris's personal leadership and great touch in helping us reinvigorate the Bull. He has really made a difference in giving a clear direction and voice to the Thundering Herd.' James Gorman, executive vice-president & head of client relationship group, Merrill Lynch
'J. Walter Thompson is Kraft Foods International's largest roster agency, with a relationship that has spanned more than 75 years.
'Over many years, Chris Jones has been at the forefront of the agency relationship with Kraft and we greatly appreciate his insightful and professional leadership.
Both during his time at the helm of the UK agency in London and most recently during his period as the head of JWT Worldwide, Chris has made an enormous contribution to our business. A strong international relationship has been reinforced and this will serve both JWT and Kraft well as we continue to build our business and networks internationally. I am sure that when Chris returns to full health he will continue his enormous contribution to advertising and business in general.' Ronnie Bell, president, Kraft Europe
'Chris has a brilliant lateral thinking mind and is able to communicate and drive his ideas to the benefit of his clients.' Nigel Wisden, director of sales and marketing, De Beers
'Although I have known Chris for only a short two years, I have garnered the greatest respect for him, not only on a business level, but also on a personal friendship basis. We have spent many hours together and I always appreciated Chris's wisdom, honesty and integrity. I look forward to his full recovery and many more hours in his company.' Walter Fischer, president & chief executive, Rolex Watch USA.