Prospective employers tussle over former Y&R boss Hamish McLennan

Hamish McLennan, chairman and CEO of WPP-owned Young & Rubicam, stood down in February, announcing he was to return to Australia for family reasons.

Now, safely ensconced in Oz, he’s the subject of much gossip with some saying he’s being lined up to replace dumped CEO Grant Blackley at Lachlan Murdoch’s Ten Network TV business with others (including McLennan) musing that he may be tempted by another role at WPP such as managing its media and digital agencies in Asia Pacific.

McLennan, 44, began his career in advertising at Sydney’s George Patterson, overseeing the purchase of the agency by Y&R in 2006.

It’s interesting that he’s being linked so strongly with Ten. Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s eldest son, is standing in as CEO in place of Blackley but has a mixed record in management.

And top agency honchos seem to be newly attractive to TV employers these days. In the UK former St Luke’s co-founder David Abraham is perceived to have done a good job in his year at the helm of Channel 4 and is even being touted by some as a possible successor to director general Mark Thompson at the BBC.

What seems certain is that McLennan is a considerable loss to Sir Martin Sorrell and WPP.

The sad truth though seems to be that after five years or so of globetrotting to keep Y&R’s clients sweet (and not seeing much of his school age children) he’s knackered.

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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.