A tug-of-war is likely between major agency groups wanting to hire
David Wheldon, who quit abruptly as president of BBDO’s European network
Saatchi & Saatchi and Ogilvy & Mather are both thought to be keen to
recruit him following his sudden exit after a meeting with Jean-Michel
Goudard, BBDO’s international president.
Wheldon’s departure ends a less than happy 22 months at BBDO for the
former Coca-Cola worldwide ad director, who is known to have been
frustrated at the lack of influence in his seemingly high-powered role
and a strained relationship with Goudard.
The normally blunt-speaking Wheldon, 42, declined to comment on his exit
and was expected to mull over his options - including a possible
start-up - during a holiday.
Wheldon was recruited by BBDO amid a blaze of publicity in November
Since then, the one-time managing director of Lowe Howard-Spink is said
to have found it difficult to make his mark in a loosely controlled
dollars 4 billion-billing European confederation driven by
independent-minded agencies such as the UK’s Abbott Mead Vickers
’It wasn’t so much that David wasn’t right for the job, more a fact that
he was hired for a job which didn’t really exist,’ a BBDO source
’He found it hard to connect with the principal players.’
Wheldon is said to have told friends that he was frustrated by what he
saw as BBDO’s inability to fulfil its potential and its failure to put
its best agency chiefs into top-level management posts.
Industry sources claim Wheldon has already been sounded out by agencies
including O&M, which is said to be seeking a senior figure to stabilise
the agency in the wake of its loss of millions of pounds of Ford
Saatchis, where Wheldon worked for five years, is also reported to be
hunting a frontman. Kevin Roberts, Saatchis worldwide chief executive,
said: ’I’d like to meet Wheldon - but I haven’t.’