LePlae to Lead TBWA North America

NEW YORK Robert LePlae, president and CEO of TBWA’s California operations since May, and president of TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., before that, is heading east to fill the gap left by last week’s exit of TBWA New York Group president Brett Gosper, the agency said today.

LePlae, however, will take a broader role: North American president.

“I’ve had the good fortune to work with nearly every team in North America over the last several years, and look forward to partnering with the team in New York,” said LePlae, in a statement. “They have done an incredible job over the past few years, despite all the changes, and I believe the best is yet to come.”

LePlae’s ascension, which was expected [Adweek, Sept. 26], was announced internally this morning and is effective immediately. In his new role, he takes a seat on TBWA’s global executive committee and reports to worldwide CEO Jean-Marie Dru.

“This new role is a natural evolution of Robert’s career,” said Dru, in an internal memo. “I am personally delighted about this news, and am sure you will join me in wishing Robert congratulations.”

Omnicom Group’s TBWA has not had a chief for the region since last fall, when then president of the Americas (a post that included Latin America) Tom Carroll shifted to vice chairman worldwide. The New York-based Carroll, 50, remains in that position.

The job of leading New York opened up when Gosper, 46, resigned to rejoin Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson in New York, in the new post of U.S. president. Gosper led the New York Group for about a year.

LePlae, 45, has been based in Playa del Rey since January 2002, when he re-entered the U.S. market after two years in Tokyo, where he was the global account chief on Nissan (TBWA’s largest client in terms of revenue) and set up the agency’s joint venture with Hakuhodo, known as \G1 Worldwide. LePlae was president and CEO of the venture.

LePlae’s rise to CEO of TBWA\California (which includes Los Angeles and San Francisco) enabled chief strategy officer Carisa Bianchi to become president of the Playa del Rey office, home of worldwide chairman and chief creative officer Lee Clow. Mike Allen is president of TBWA\C\D in San Francisco. TBWA is expected to fill the TBWA\California post.