Greenlees to Be Installed as Heir Apparent to Tragos at TBWA
NEW YORK–Omnicom Group and TBWA International are close to finalizing the details of a plan for the worldwide agency network to absorb most of the assets of GGT Group.
The main component of the plan is for GGT’s crown jewel, BDDP Worldwide, to merge with TBWA under the latter’s banner. The move, which is still under discussion, would propel TBWA into the ranks of the 10 largest networks in terms of revenue.
GGT’s two U.S. shops, Martin/Williams in Minneapolis and GSD&M in Austin, Texas, are expected to continue operating as stand-alone entities. However, the two shops may report through TBWA.
John Wren, president and chief executive of New York-based Omnicom, was meeting in Europe last week with top executives from TBWA, GGT and BDDP to hammer out the details.
Under the proposed plan, Michael Greenlees, chief executive of London-based GGT, and Jean-Marie Dru, chief executive of Paris-based BDDP, would assume top posts at TBWA, said sources.
Greenlees, 51, is expected to be named chief executive officer of TBWA, which would position him as the heir apparent to TBWA co-founder Bill Tragos. Tragos, 63, currently holds the titles of chairman and chief executive officer. It is believed Greenlees will be based in New York. Dru will likely be named to an international post with a focus on European operations. Executives involved either declined comment or could not be reached by press time.
Bob Kuperman, president and chief executive officer of TBWA Chiat/Day North America, which operates offices in San Francisco, New York, Toronto and Venice, Calif., will continue in that post, said sources.
A global union between TBWA and BDDP would be relatively free of conflicts and unite two culturally similar shops. Both agencies were founded in Paris (TBWA in 1970, BDDP in 1984), are driven by creative work and emphasize account planning.
Omnicom, which agreed to acquire GGT for $235 million in January, will move cautiously to fold BDDP into TBWA on a market-by-market basis. The BDDP name, which will be phased out in most markets, will remain in some countries. “Where it makes sense, there will be one entity; where it doesn’t, there will be two,” said one executive. For example, in France, the BDDP brand will likely survive to help sidestep a potential conflict between that shop’s BMW client and TBWA’s Nissan account.
TBWA is the smallest, youngest and fastest-growing agency network owned by Omnicom. In 1997, the shop’s global revenues and billings both rose by 17 percent to $550 million and $4 billion, respectively. Sister shop BBDO Worldwide increased itsrevenues by 9 percent and billings by 7 percent to $1.5 billion and $11.5 billion, respectively. DDB Needham Worldwide grew revenues and billings by 12 percent to $1.6 billion and $11.7 billion, respectively.
BDDP has a presence in 17 countries and lists clients such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.
Combined, TBWA International and BDDP would form a global network with $6 billion in billings and roughly $850 million in revenues.