Advertising: The Ax at Interpublic

Six years ago, Marion Harper Jr. put together the Interpublic Group of Companies — a 24-firm complex of market-research, sales-promotion, advertising and public-relations outfits built around McCann-Erickson, the world's second-largest ad agency after J. Walter Thompson. Complete service to clients — in principle, even to competing clients — could be rendered within the group's enterprises, with platoons of talent shifted around to cater to specific needs. It was a grand plan, but it went sour. In recent weeks Interpublic has undergone a major overhaul. More than 500 of some 8,000 employees have been dismissed. Harper, at 51, has been...

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