25 April 2007

Phillips: “Let’s make things better”

Three years after Edelman purchased JCPR, the inevitable CEO jousting match came to its conclusion yesterday as Stuart Smith’s reign as CEO at Edelman UK came to a swift end.

After a gradual coming together of the two organisations, it was decided that the “two separate P&Ls created an arbitrary division” and it was Stuart that was pushed onto his pen. In his place Robert Phillips, JCPR’s co-founder, takes over as CEO of the consolidated P&L.

It’s a move that would draw sympathy from Jose Mourinho (and David Brain, president & CEO, Edelman Europe). Over the last three years, under Smith, Edelman has almost doubled in size. Only Weightwatchers’ “Slimmer of the Year” could expect a similar fate for such growth.

Over the same time period JCPR has grown by 40 per cent, which is far from shabby, but you can’t help but to feel sorry for Smith – at least until you consider his doubtlessly large golden handshake and a track record that’ll see him straight into another top job.

With both businesses moving into one building within the next 12 months, perhaps it was felt that Phillips is best qualified to make sure that JCPR’s sparkle isn’t diminished by Edelman’s larger and far more sober B2B focus.

We don’t think for a second that Robert Phillips actually said “let’s make things better,” because – clearly – matching similar growth figures is going to be bloody difficult. We also don’t think he said it because quoting an old advertising strapline from a Dutch conglomerate with a similar sounding name to your own surname would be a little bit frivolous.

As for what this means in tech PR world, well, you’d imagine that Edelman/JCPR will probably get a few more consumer tech accounts to sit alongside X-Box, Creative, Motorola and the like....


Anonymous said...

That's a real shame for Stuart. A real professional, an extremely bright PR practioner, a pleasure to work with and in my experience an honest and straightforward man. I hope he'll do fine.

As for Edelman - it remains to be seen how this lurch consumer-wards in the leadership team goes down with its corporate clients.

Anonymous said...

Stuart and Robert seem to be two very different characters and managers. Robert very firey and fiercely ambitious and Stuart I suspect calm and calculating. I reckon that Robert's naked ambition forced the decision in the end, I just hope that money has calmed him down a bit and that the boat isn't rocked too much - after all things have gone very well so far and it's been a great case study and argument for a dual brand approach. They have won where many have tried and failed, so Robert... go careful mate.

Anonymous said...

Observers of Edelman’s overly long press release, (in which Smith rated a single line of copy) and the sensationalist PR Week front page story that followed could not help but feel that Smith had been legged-over. The way in which the firm got its defence in before anyone even thought about attacking gave the whole episode a strange whiff of guilt.

Conspiracy theorists and Edel-watchers will no doubt have chuckled to themselves that three weeks ago the person Smith listed as the most inspirational career figure in PR Week’s Power 100 was – wait for it – David Brain: the very man who handed him his P45 last week. To add insult to injury PR Week’s Top 150 supplement ran a photograph of Smith, Cooper and Phillips which was hardly in the style of Vanity Fair. All three looked very uncomfortable albeit for very different reasons: Cooper and Phillips because they’d probably just accepted their new roles and felt the photograph was inappropriate; and Smith because he could see the coup de grace coming around the corner. That photo – as reprinted on the front page of PR Week – is this story’s Grassy Knoll.

The whole thing could have been handled a little better.

Of 15 senior Directors at the firm only two are believed not to have sent Smith messages of condolence – it’s nothing but wild speculation, but it'll be interesting if these are the same two who behave in an especially toady fashion to the new boss, perhaps as a way of hiding any problems that may be emerging from within their own teams.

....the world's leading.... said...

I hadn't read the press release...have now though.

There's some odd capitalisation in the quotes from Brain and Phillips. Brain says, "We are clearly, Better Together" and in the quote from Phillips he also says that "the two teams are indeed Better Together."

Sounds like a new Edelman strapline might be on the way, don't you think? Along with a Jack Johnson soundtrack.

More odd capitalisation! Phillips also says, "This is what the Next Chapter will be all about."

Sounds a bit sinister, doesn't it..? Like "New World Order"