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Caroline Marshall talks to the head of Young and Rubicam about flotation, integration and why adland is about results, not fine art
Peter Georgescu has a vast corner office, naturally. The man whose influence pervades all things Young & Rubicam often sports the American adman's uniform of stripy coloured shirt, topped with whiter-than-white collar and cuffs. Surrounded by antique furniture and tasteful memorabilia, he strikes a regal pose befitting one of the Kings of Madison Avenue.
Rumour has it that Y&R's chief executive is housed on the sixth floor of the Madison Avenue headquarters because it is the highest the ladders of New York's fire department will reach in an emergency. It's true that Georgescu's elegant office was occupied by the previous chief executives, Alex Kroll, Ed Ney and even Raymond Rubicam. But the fire department story suggests a caution that is not a feature of Georgescu's current regime.
As only the eighth chief executive in Young & Rubicam's 74-year history, he is preparing to take the company public in a reported $2 billion New York valuation which will raise about $400 million. In the US, this is known as an initial public offering, or IPO. In an advertising world where increasingly the maxim is "get big, get small or get out", Georgescu is making an audacious bid to join the advertising superleague.
Georgescu's urbane and charming demeanour belies a childhood of great tragedy. Born in Romania in 1939, he enjoyed an early life of privilege then, after being separated from his parents, spent seven years of his childhood in a Communist labour camp where he received no schooling. "At the age of eight, I was made to clean the sewers," here calls "because I could fit."
He escaped to the US, where his case had became something of a cause celebre, and was reunited with his parents. Georgescu, attended private school then Princeton and Stanford University. He flirted …