Berenson becomes president of Grey/N.Y. — Move Said to ‘Strengthen Management Structure,’ Not Create Succession Plan

NEW YORK–It took 23 years, but Grey Advertising chief Ed Meyer has finally give….On Friday, the $4.7-billion agency announced that 53-year-old Bob Berenson would become president of Grey/N.Y. His is a title that has never existed at the 76-year-old agency. The appointment officially casts Berenson, a 29-year Grey veteran and Meyer’s longtime right-hand man, as point person on a roster that includes huge assignments from such clients as Kraft General Foods and Procter & Gamble. Meyer remains worldwide president of the agency, in addition to being chairman and ceo.Berenson is the first to admit that his role in recent years has not been direct management of Grey’s accounts. “My job is to make sure that the clients have the resources they need from the agency,” he said. Berenson is also in charge of all of the agency’s subsidiaries, including Grey Direct and Font & Vaamonde Advertising.Meyer, 66, aware of the constant interest in who will eventually take over for him, had hinted at these moves two months ago in an interview with ADWEEK (ADWEEK, April 12). In the statement released by Grey last Friday, the word “succession” was carefully avoided. The action instead was staged as “a move to deepen and strengthen the management structure of Grey” and seen internally as a method of dealing with the New York office’s massive growth. In the last ten years, the flagship has grown from $605 million in billings to $1.6 billion by year-end 1992.Meyer also created a new level of upper echelon management, promoting five current executive vice presidents to the newly created title of group director. They are: Jack Frantz, Neil Kreisberg, Lou Maloof, Clark Montgomery and Jordan Rosuck. Frantz runs KGF; Kreisberg and Montgomery are responsible for P&G; Maloofs primary job is Mitsubishi Motor Sales; and Rosuck handles Red Lobster and the National Dairy Board.As Meyer recognizes members of “a large executive cadre” that he said in April would probably one day run Grey, it is still unclear whether there is a title change in store for John Shannon, Berenson’s overseas counter-part. In April, Meyer said that the two executives were now doing jobs that meant they deserved to soon inherit the external trappings of power.A Grey spokesperson said Friday that no announcement concerning Shannon was imminent. However, Shannon, as chairman/ceo Europe, Africa and Middle East, already has considerable influence as a member of Grey’s exclusive four-member board. Berenson has not yet been named to that group.Even with the announcement, the specifics of Grey’s succession will likely remain unanswered for some time. Meyer’s current contract runs through 1997, and its renewal is considered highly possible by followers of the institutionalized agency.Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)