DraftFCB/Chicago has announced a big shake-up in management of its Chicago office and North American operations. Effectively immediately, Michael Fassnacht has been named president of the Chicago shop and a staff of around 1,200 people. He was most recently the agency's worldwide chief strategy officer.
Buried far beneath the news of Fassnacht's new role in the DraftFCB announcement Thursday was the more interesting and potentially disturbing development of the day. Mark Modesto, who most recently was president of DraftFCB North America, has left the agency and his post has been eliminated effective immediately. Prior to getting the North America title last October, Modesto had been president of DraftFCB/Chicago, the job Fassnacht is now taking. The president's post in Chicago had been vacant since Modesto was promoted last fall.
At least one source familiar with developments said Modesto was escorted from the DraftFCB office last night, prior to today's developments. It appears Modesto's abrupt exit from the agency could be related to DraftFCB's SC Johnson account -- a large and lucrative chunk of business that Modesto oversaw in North America. Now Mark Pacchini, who had been handling the SC Johnson business overseas for the last four years and who had worked closely with Modesto in the past, will oversee the SC Johnson account globally.
It could not be immediately determined what, if any issues related to the handling of the SC Johnson account may have precipitated Modesto's sudden exit, but DraftFCB was apparently forced to act urgently. A DraftFCB spokesman said he could not comment on what issues, if any, may have caused Modesto's abrupt exit.
Perhaps a clue to what came down with Modesto is tied to Bob Mallers, DraftFCB/Chicago's chief financial officer, who exited the agency Wednesday along with Modesto. A DraftFCB spokesman said news of Mallers' dismissal was not included in the announcement Thursday because journalists typically aren't interested in such positions. Neil Miller, DraftFCB's corporate chief financial officer, will take over for Mallers on an interim basis.
This is not DraftFCB's first brush with major management problems in recent years. Several years ago as it was yanking its $600 million ad account out of DraftFCB/Chicago soon after the agency won it, Walmart alleged that DraftFCB had used what it considered unacceptable tactics to try and lure the discount retailer's ad account to the agency.