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DraftFCB/Chicago management shake-up raises big questions

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MICHAEL Fassnacht Photo.jpgDraftFCB/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.

6 Comments

The Head of North America and the CFO fired the same day? Doesn't sound client related to me. Sounds like financial improprieties

By far the biggest group of morons in advertising--Howard, Jonathon, etc. They make a lot of money but nobody respects them in the least.

As far as I'm concerned good riddance. These guys were downright abusive if you didn't roll over and go along with whatever they said. We're talking real anger management issues. I'm surpised they didn't need a small army to escort them out.

The only question is what took so long to get rid of these two power-hungry, arrogant, disrespectful, highly volatile "executives?" Trust me, you didn't want to be on the receiving end of one of their screaming fits. Bill, the gofer, was just there errand boy.

C'mon Lewis -- keep digging! There's much, much more to this story as you surely already know, and all the circumstantial evidence and clues are right there for the taking!

Follow the dots. Follow the money. Follow the...the...wait! Who's there?!? Howard? Howard! HOWARD! How good to see you! No, no, I was just...Howard! No! I wasn't...wait! WAIT!

>BLAM !! BLAM BLAM BLAM !!!

Ack...Lewis...Lewwwwwiiiiiisssss....follow the money....follow the...the....Rosebuuuuuuud....

Dave, I think that you should shut your mouth. You have no idea what these men had done to the company. Modesto made the company grow 26% since 2006. They are now the top 5 biggest company in the country. I would love to see anyone that could pull of something like that. To me it sounds like that there is some pure jealously occurring in this situation.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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