Weber confirms move into "consultant" role at IPG

NEW YORK: Larry Weber is moving into the role of part-time "strategic consultant" at Interpublic Group, as much of his portfolio has been handed off to Weber Shandwick CEO Harris Diamond.

NEW YORK: Larry Weber is moving into the role of part-time "strategic consultant" at Interpublic Group, as much of his portfolio has been handed off to Weber Shandwick CEO Harris Diamond.

Weber had been CEO of Advanced Marketing Services (AMS), which was the operating group that housed several IPG marketing services companies, including PR brands WS, Golin/Harris International, The MWW Group, and DeVries Public Relations. IPG recently announced its intention to dissolve AMS and hand over control of the group's PR holdings to WS CEO Harris Diamond. Diamond has also been handed control of brand-identity firm FutureBrand and IPG design consultancy Springpoint. The termination of AMS and the expanded role of Diamond had left questions about the fate of Weber at IPG. "I went to [CEO] David [Bell] after [former CEO] John [Dooner] left, and asked him what he wanted me to do," said Weber. "He asked me if I'd be a strategic consultant to him. But I expect my biggest role will be helping Harris and his team in the global technology space." Weber will also retain the title of founder of Weber Shandwick, IPG confirmed. Weber said his new role would give him the chance to work more closely with clients, something he says he had missed in his recent positions. "I've been much happier lately being around clients more," Weber said. "It's the first time in a while that I've had that opportunity. The last two years it has been about layoffs and reorganizations, and things like that." Weber's relationship with IPG began in 1996, when he sold his tech-focused PR agency The Weber Group and a web-based marketing venture called Thunder House to the ad services giant. He then helped oversee The Weber Group's merger with two other large IPG PR holdings - first with Shandwick, and then BSMG. Those combinations resulted in today's Weber Shandwick, the world's largest PR firm in terms of revenue, according to the 2002 Agency Rankings, the last time the firm supplied its numbers. After the BSMG-WS merger was complete, BSMG CEO Diamond was eventually handed the reins of WS, while Weber was placed in charge of several IPG operating units as CEO of the Allied Communications operating group, which was a forerunner of AMS. Yet as IPG fell into financial difficulty stemming from a deep advertising recession, failed ventures, and accounting blunders, CEO Dooner was forced out and replaced by Bell, who had been Diamond's boss when Bell ran True North. True North, which was acquired by IPG in 2001, was the parent company of BSMG. Last week, Bell announced that the floundering IPG needs to undergo a shake-up, including the dissolution of AMS and an end to the "'90s mind-set that is no longer appropriate." Among Bell's early moves was handing over several operating units to Diamond's supervision. Bell singled out Diamond as "one of our most capable executives" during an investor conference call last week. Weber said he continues to have a strong relationship with both Diamond and Bell. "I have a terrific relationship with both men - especially Harris," said Weber. "I have tremendous respect for him as a great manager and CEO, and he was the right person at the right time."

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