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Sterling Cooper's New Account Services Structure Seems Designed for Civil War

Sterling Cooper, New York, has reorganized its account management so that two account service chiefs will handle half the shop's clients each, sources tell BNET.

The setup appears designed to create competition between the two new co-heads of accounts, Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove. The pair were appointed after former accounts chief Burt Peterson was let go, along with one-third of Sterling's staff, by the agency's new British parent company, Putnam Powell & Lowe.

The dueling-account-team setup seems doomed to failure -- a house divided against itself cannot stand, and that includes even the most venerable of Madison Avenue brands.

PP&L has added an extra layer of confusion to the situation regarding the role of creative chief Don Draper. Previously, Draper approved new work and presented it to clients. But more recently, PP&L want him to be the client services face of the agency, much the way Alex Bosgusky is for Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Lee Clow is for TBWA/Chiat/Day. Draper recently helmed a routine visit to London Fog, for instance, in which no new work was presented.

The result is that Draper's underlings on both the creative and account services side never know if they're visiting clients on their own, or whether Draper is going to show up in the adjacent plane seat -- complete with a last-minute creative strategy that came to him in the airport bar.

More immediately, eyes are focused on Campbell and Cosgrove. Campbell has paid his dues in account service: He was the one abandoned by Draper on a new business trip to California when the agency failed to land an aerospace client. Moreover, it was Campbell who agreed to pitch American Airlines even though his own father had died in an AA crash just days before.

Cosgrove, however, is better known as the author of a short story in The Atlantic. He may be the artsy one, but in business terms he's a lightweight.

Bottom line: If Campbell were to follow Peterson out the door, then questions will need to be asked about whether PP&L financial officer Lane Pryce knows what he's doing.

Disclosure: BNET's editors have previously required the author to make this disclosure regarding items on Sterling Cooper.

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