Agency.com Moves Wren Plan Forward

Former Agency.com CEO Don Scales feared the Web shop would be swallowed up if it aligned too closely with larger Omnicom Group network TBWA Worldwide. David Eastman, his replacement, sees things differently.

Eastman, 42, was appointed as CEO of Agency.com last week, a month after the ouster of Scales, who sources said clashed with Agency.com executives and dragged his feet in aligning with TBWA and its direct agency, Tequila, per a plan put in place by Omnicom CEO John Wren. For his part, Eastman sees an alignment as a possible catalyst for global expansion and an opportunity for Agency.com to participate in large, integrated campaigns without sacrificing the 11-year-old agency’s independent streak.

“We’re not dependent on TBWA or Tequila for our clients,” Eastman said. “We stand on our own two feet.”

Omnicom promoted Eastman to the CEO post, reporting to Tequila Worldwide CEO Jeremy Pagden, after his eight-year run at Agency.com, most recently as managing partner of its London office. His high standing was made clear early this year when Scales moved to fire him, only to have TBWA reinstate him, sources said. Insiders pegged the incident as a clear sign that Scales did not have the confidence of TBWA.

Tops on Eastman’s to-do list, after he relocates to New York, will be to jumpstart the integration with TBWA and Tequila. “We want to behave more as a network than a bunch of individual offices,” he noted. Eastman said Agency.com would not become simply a Web appendage of a large agency network, instead maintaining its own client base, while jointly holding clients with TBWA. Agency.com and TBWA pitched and won the Ask account in December, and they are working on a half-dozen other projects together, Eastman said. But he sees an opportunity for much more.

“We’re all part of the same family at the end of the day,” he said. “We’re realizing we have to play nicely with each other.”