• U.S.

ADVERTISING: The Reorganization Man

3 minute read

Young & Rubicam International was an old and esteemed ad agency when Edward N. Ney took charge as president and chief executive three years ago last week. Y & R was also, in its 48th year, just drowsy enough to have lost $40 million in billings in the previous 16 months and just fat enough to be carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in excess overhead. The agency needed reorganization. Ney brought in new business, pared the Madison Avenue head-office staff by 25%, and led the survivors in a quick-step cadence of work, work, work.

Now Y & R is as lean as its 6-ft. 1-in., 172-lb. boss. Worldwide billings for its clients, which include Chrysler, Goodyear, Eastern Air Lines, General Foods and Procter & Gamble, rose from $493 million in 1970 to $563 million in 1972. That figure automatically climbed to $627 million with two acquisitions. Last February, Y & R bought out Sudler & Hennessey, the nation’s largest ad agency in the medical-magazine field (billings: $34 million). Last week Ney picked up Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline, which has billings of $30 million and is the largest agency in direct-response advertising, the field in which consumers order goods and services directly from the advertiser. The Wunderman deal lifted Y & R into the No. 1 position in domestic billings, roughly $27 million ahead of J. Walter Thompson, which remains No. 1 worldwide with $772 million in billings.

Next Ney plans to enter retail-store and industrial-account advertising by acquiring agencies in these fields. He also intends to branch out from advertising to product publicity and corporate public relations by developing a separate Y & R-owned p.r. firm.

To maintain this momentum, Ed Ney’s people are likely to be found at their desks at 7:30 a.m. as well as at 7:30 p.m. “There are no geniuses who work from 9 to 5,” says Ney hi a husky voice. “If anyone here doesn’t like the business, he had better get out because it is too demanding.”

Ache All Over. That philosophy helped propel Ney, now 48, from account executive to chief of the agency’s domestic branches in 1963 and president of its international division in 1968. Frequently, he visits half a dozen cities a week and calls on eight or ten clients, making a couple of speeches along the way and finding time to work for such groups as the National Urban League and the International Chamber of Commerce. When he is in New York City, he gets to the office by 7 a.m. A physical fitness enthusiast, Ney takes daily workouts in a gym or plays paddle tennis at the Racquet Club. “There are times when you ache all over from lack of sleep,” he admits, but “if you like what you are doing, why not try to do it as well as you can?” For his staff, all that makes Ed Ney a tough act not to follow.

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