Tomblin ousted after Maher row

The founding partner and planning director of Maher Bird Associates has been sacked in an acrimonious split with managing director Stephen Maher.

Mark Tomblin has been barred from returning to the Simons Palmer Clemmow Johnson spin-off agency, which has billings worth 30m, and clients which include Next, Victoria Wine and trade advertising for The Sun and News of the World.

The move is being seen as part of a bigger plan to reshape Maher Bird in the wake of the TBWA/ Simons Palmer merger, which involves Maher assuming the title of chief executive.

Insiders say the agency will emerge as “second string” to the newly-formed TBWA Simons Palmer, with the aim of taking on TBWA’s smaller spending clients which require a through-the-line service.

One source says: “Paul Simons (TBWA Simons Palmer chief executive) and Stephen Maher have a vision for the agency. They are using the cover of the merger to restructure Maher Bird.”

Maher, who refuses to comment on why Tomblin was fired, denies any change. He says: “The course the company is on is absolutely fixed.”

He says of his title change: “It makes sense if there is effectively a focal point in terms of authority. It is a more efficient way of running the business.”

Maher says the roles of Phil Bird and Steve Deput, the agency’s other two founding partners and joint creative directors, will not change. He adds that Tomblin’s replacement will be announced shortly.

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