New blow for Young & Rubicam in US as Sears shifts $360m account to Mcgarrybowen

This time it’s Y&R’s Chicago office taking a hit as the giant Sears retail account heads off to Dentsu-owned Mcgarrybowen.

Dentsu, which hasn’t always invested sensibly in overseas outposts, made a good choice when it bought Mcgarrybowen, a safe pair of corporate hands run by seasoned old pros (despite their dodgy grammar).

According to Ad Age Mcgarrybowen beat Fallon and Hill Holliday to the account.

It’s been a terrible last few months for Y&R with big accounts and top people walking out of the door. A year or so ago Y&R in North America looked like the star in owner WPP’s firmament but it’s all gone pear-shaped since.

In the past year Y&R has lost business from Dr Pepper Snapple Group, MetLife, Office Depot and Hilton Hotels. It is trying to stage a turnaround under new leadership, which includes CEO David Sable (formerly on Wunderman) and former Goodby creative Jim Elliott in New York and new West Coast president Doug Sweeny, formerly a top marketer at Levi’s.

Highly-regarded North America CEO Hamish McLennan departed to his homeland of Australia in February this year and it seems to have been downhill all the way since.

New business wins and old business losses come in streaks of course so it’s a bit early to write off Y&R.

But the agency, one of the most famous in America, needs to raise its game and quick.

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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.