Merkley to Market

NEW YORK Given an enviable case history like Mercedes-Benz USA, why hasn’t Merkley + Partners grown by leaps and bounds? And, with such a marquee client, why is the New York shop’s profile so low?

These are among the core questions facing Rob Moorman, the Omnicom Group agency’s new chief marketing officer. Moorman, who was named last week and starts tomorrow, left a broader, worldwide CMO role at Saatchi & Saatchi here to lead new business development at Merkley, a 257-person, single-office shop with revenue nearing $80 million. Although the bulk of Moorman’s time will be spent cultivating new clients, he’s also charged with making the shop and its leaders, including CEO Alex Gellert and co-executive creative directors Andy Hirsch and Randy Saitta, more visible in the national marketplace. That will likely mean attending more industry conferences, judging more awards shows and deepening connections with search consultants and the media — tasks that will fall to the full management team, not just one executive, as in the past.

“It’s all of us working together,” said Moorman, 55, who fills a vacancy left by the August 2007 exit of Morgan Shorey. “Marketing an agency — whether it’s to existing clients or to new clients — is absolutely a team sport. So, we all need to work together to develop what we think those things are that ought to be done.”

For example, Merkley gets plenty of requests to participate in industry events, said Gellert, who joined the agency in 1999 and assumed leadership three years later. “What we need is someone day-to-day managing that, filtering that and coming and saying to some degree, ‘Here are the six things that you’ve got to go do this year.’ Or, ‘Here are the six things we’re not getting asked to do that we want you to do,’ and [then make] them happen.”

Gellert and Hirsch acknowledged that Merkley fits the industry clich