Despite a $4 million plus exit package after his less-than-three-year attempt to turn round McCann Worldgroup in New York, Nick Brien was said to be "surprised and angry" yesterday when told his job was ending immediately.
The Brit had had an " an increasingly tense relationship with parent company Interpublic," said Adweek.
Later in the day Brien, said to not have another job lined up, had left Worldgroup offices and could not be reached .
Replacing him as chief executive is Harris Diamond, longtime Interpublic executive and Weber Shandwick CEO.
Adweek said the fate of Brien's close ally, controversial Worldgroup CFO Tara Comonte, was "still up in the air". Comonte worked with Brien when he ran IPG Mediabrands and Arc Worldwide.
When Brien was finally told yesterday of his termination, the move triggered a "qualifying termination" clause in his employment contract.
So in losing the job,said Adweek, Brien, who is 50, gained the sizeable $4.2 million exit package "affording him the ability to take plenty of time figuring out his next move"
Brien took the top Worldgroup job in the spring of 2010 with three years to turn the agency round. Since then, McCann has lost Erickson in its title - and accounts like Nestlé, ExxonMobil, Unilever, Lufthansa and Avis. It has won little new business.
Revenue at McCann Erickson has dropped as much as 25 percent, according to sources. Brien brought in expensive high-level executives like Mother N.Y. co-founder Linus Karlsson, now chief creative officer, to no avail.
Adweek in July wrote about Brien's struggles in leading Worldgroup.
He said then that the problem was purely a public relations issue, insisting that he needed to better communicate his "great progress" in transforming the legendary agency. But The Wall Street Journal and others suggested in recent weeks that McCann Worldgroup would soon show him the door.