The future leadership of True North is open to question as its
chairman, Bruce Mason, prepares to retire next month without a named
Senior executives of the world’s sixth-largest global advertising group,
mooted as a potential bidder for Bates Worldwide, are said to be
dismayed at the delay in finding a replacement for Mason, who is set to
bow out at the age of 60.
The group, which owns the Bozell and FCB networks, is said to have
considered internal candidates as well as outsiders, but sources say the
succession is being hampered by internal wranglings.
’The fact that the process is taking so long is causing a lot of grief,’
a True North source said. ’We’re waiting with baited breath for an
We need a dynamic leader like WPP’s Martin Sorrell or Interpublic’s Phil
Geier but those people don’t become available very often.’
The main aspirant for Mason’s job is Chuck Peebler, president of Bozell,
which was acquired by True North in a dollars 440 million deal last
year. But Peebler’s age - he is in his early 60s - counts against him,
along with the opposition to his appointment from influential FCB
Brendan Ryan, the FCB chairman, who was thought to be a candidate, is
said to be reluctant to take the job. ’He’s an adman at heart and
doesn’t want to be dealing with Wall Street,’ a source said.
One option would be for Mason to defer his departure until later in the
year. But this would not please Mason’s opponents within the group, who
are said to be unhappy at some of his decisions.
He has faced internal criticism over his handling of the group’s global
alliance with Publicis. Although Mason was always sceptical of the
partnership with Publicis, he had to confront internal dissent as it
degenerated into the ad industry’s most infamous global row culminating
in a legal attempt by Maurice Levy, the Publicis chairman, to scupper
the Bozell deal and a takeover bid for True North.