In a major leadership transition at one of the industry's most storied agency networks, Rich Stoddart will succeed Tom Bernardin as CEO at Leo Burnett Worldwide.
Stoddart will also continue to hold the title of North American CEO; Bernardin remains Leo Burnett's global chairman through June 2017.
The changes take effect Feb. 1, and follow a major reorganization in December at Leo Burnett parent Publicis Groupe. That shuffle, designed to simplify the holding company's corporate structure, saw all creative resources brought under an umbrella entity, Publicis Communications, led by CEO Arthur Sadoun (who also helms Publicis Worldwide).
Today, in a statement, Sadoun described Stoddart as "the best person" to guide Leo Burnett "on this new journey and lead the teams to great successes for our clients," adding that Bernardin's "wealth of experience" would continue to help Publicis Communications "achieve its objectives."
For his part, Bernardin said that after 40 years in the advertising game, "the perfect time to pass the reins" had arrived.
Bernardin has served as Burnett's worldwide CEO for 11 years. Just one year into the job, he re-hired Stoddart (a Burnett account staffer from 1985-96) from Ford Motor Co. as president of the agency's North American operations. Stoddart, named North American CEO last year, is credited with facilitating integration and collaboration across business units while delivering campaigns for high-profile clients including Allstate, General Motors, Kellogg's, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble and Samsung.
Now, as he prepares to take on the CEO mantle, Stoddart said he is "energized by the opportunity to lead this global company and the amazing talent within it during a time of unprecedented change, opportunity and reinvention."
Burnett ranks among the world's largest agency networks with 95 offices in 84 countries and 8,500 employees worldwide. Long respected for its solid creative and emphasis on account service and integrated communications.
In recent years, the agency has received global attention and acclaim for its empowering work for Always, whose #LikeAGirl campaign has won top industry awards including a Cannes Grand Prix, a Grand Clio, an Emmy and Adweek's Brand Genius honor.