Chairman’s Title Could Go to Clow by Month’s End
NEW YORK–With new leadership at its New York and Los Angeles offices, TBWA Worldwide is preparing a succession plan as chairman Bill Tragos gets ready to retire from its most senior position.
Under the plan, Lee Clow, currently global chief creative officer and chairman of TBWA/Chiat/Day, would replace Tragos at Omnicom Group’s fastest-growing global network.
Omnicom president and chief executive John Wren confirmed that elevating Clow is “certainly something under consideration, that at the end of February, when Mr. Tragos officially retires his title may be granted to Mr. Clow.”
The promotion of the world’s best-known working creative director to global chairman–a largely ceremonial post–would “demonstrate that we want to be the world’s best creative agency,” said a TBWA executive.
Tragos, the last remaining founder of the two agencies that merged under the Omnicom aegis in 1995–TBWA International and Chiat/Day–could not be reached.
The recent revamp of U.S. management by Bob Kuperman, TBWA’s president and chief executive of the Americas, could accelerate other changes. Among them: a move to make New York the headquarters of TBWA Worldwide (it has none now). Kuperman is expected to spend most of his time in New York, where worldwide chief executive Michael Greenlees is also based.
Less likely was a proposal to highlight the Chiat/Day name on the door.
Last week, Kuperman named Carl Johnson and David Page as president, chief executive and executive creative director, respectively, in the New York office after hiring Tom Carroll as president and chief executive of the Playa del Rey, Calif., unit.
The hiring of Page, 42, from Ogilvy & Mather in New York, upset Rick Boyko, Ogilvy’s co-president and a Chiat/Day alumnus. Page was there for just four months. “Rick feels betrayed,” said one source. Page succeeds Eric McClellan, who left in September.
Johnson, 40, formerly chief executive of TBWA GGT Simons Palmer in London, faces the challenge of re-establishing the agency’s New York presence. Although still successful on the new business front, the $250 million shop is not seen as a creative leader.
Johnson, who caught the eye of Kuperman during a global pitch for Heinz ketchup last year, was lured by the prospect of making an impact in the world’s largest ad market. “To a certain extent, the combination of fear and adrenaline is what intrigues me,” he said.
Mary Maroun, 42, who ran the office for two years as managing director, is mulling an offer to stay. But sources expect her to leave once she lands a new job or a favorable severance package. Maroun did not return calls. –with Hank Kim and Joan Voight
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