Rupert Howell in talks to replace Langdon at McCanns

LONDON - Rupert Howell, founder of HHCL & Partners, is reported to have been approached to take over the top role at McCann-Erickson Europe, following the departure of Ben Langdon.

The involvement of Howell comes after the collapse of his start-up consultancy, The Growth Organisation, early in June after it failed to secure sufficient funding.

Howell had departed his role as chief executive of Lord Bell's Chime Communications, parent to HHCL & Partners, to launch the venture.

Howell has confirmed that he has been approached by McCann-Erickson about taking the role of regional director and chairman of EMEA, which became free after Langdon was sensationally ousted late last month.

It has been suggested that one of the reasons Langdon, who joined McCann-Erickson in 1996, was forced to leave the agency was that he wanted the agency's name be changed to McCann Langdon, followed by the name of other principals at the agency.

When Langdon's departure was announced, it was initially said that there would be no direct replacement, but that the appointment of the London chief executive, Chris Hunton, could be in jeopardy. Hunton was appointed by Langdon, but it is thought that McCann's worldwide chief executive John Dooner might want one of his own people in the role.

At the time, Dooner said: "As relates to the leadership of McCann in London, the agency's clients are currently well served, but we will look to supplement that management team with the appropriate talent in due course."

McCann-Erickson Europe has been at the centre of accounting scandals that have caused massive problems at parent company the Interpublic Group, contributing to a write-off of $181.3m (£112.5m) at the group and a plummeting share price, as well as investigations into its account practices.

Howell has a long history in the advertising industry, founding what was one of London's top creative agencies Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury in 1987. The agency was sold to Chime Communications, run by one-time Tory spin doctor Lord Bell, 10 years later, in a £20m deal.

He quit his job as joint chief executive of Chime in November 2002 and was replaced by Chris Satterthwaite. Since then, the agency he founded has found a new owner, the WPP Group, and has been renamed HHCL/Red Cell. Howell served on the board of Chime for five years.

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