Dooner’s $37m pay-off sharpens focus on top ad exec pay

McCann Worldgroup CEO John Dooner is retiring with a $37.7m pay-off, though he’ll be staying on at the company as a consultant. Or, as Adweek says in this report, be paid $2.5m for 15 years in return for not working for anyone else.

Not that McCanns’ performance has been especially stellar over the last couple of years, losing Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Pfizer’s Viagra and part of Verizon.

This comes on top of American fund managers querying Omnicom boss John Wren’s generous bonus scheme which netted him $7.9m last year, about eight times his base salary.

Of course by the standards of many American CEOs (and, increasingly, UK CEOs) these are not huge figures even though Dooner’s remuneration for doing nothing will raise more than a few eyebrows. He isn’t even the company’s big boss, that honour goes to Interpublic CEO Michael Roth, although McCanns makes most of the money.

Back in the UK, or to be technically correct Dublin, WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell is one year in to an incentive scheme that might net him £60m. At the end of this Sorrell will be 70 or over so it’s something to see him through his retirement (presumably). Will the usually acquiescent WPP board bung him a few million on top if he misses the top target? Perish the thought.

Still IPG’s treatment of Dooner must be reassuring for Nick Brien, the former media director of Leo Burnett in London, who is due to succeed him as boss of McCann Worldgroup.

One suspects that by the time the still relatively youthful Brien makes it to retirement age IPG will be no more and McCanns will be owned by somebody else. But Brien will still be able to pay the mortgage on the mansion in Connecticut.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.