Omnicom Group evp Troy Ruhanen is the new chief at TBWA, replacing Tom Carroll, who has been president and CEO since 2007, Omnicom confirmed. Carroll has been bumped to chairman.
Jean-Marie Dru will continue to serve as chairman, TBWA agency network.
Ruhanen’s ascension to a top global network role has been widely expected after he was promoted to his holding company job last October. The Australian, who joined BBDO’s New York flagship from Leo Burnett in 2004, quickly rose to run BBDO’s massive AT&T account and the agency’s largest region, BBDO Americas before moving to Omnicom.
Rumors about Carroll's hold on the CEO role have mounted in recent weeks. An internal announcement had been expected by gathered TBWA execs at Cannes this year. In recent months, Carroll has made it known to Omnicom chief John Wren that he wanted less of an operating role, sources said.
Carroll and Ruhanen did not return calls.
Ruhanen has his work cut out for him. In the last four years, TBWA has lost cornerstone global creative accounts and has not replaced them. Among those have been Beiersdorf, Mars, Visa and Absolut. Signature client Apple, handled by TBWA\Media Arts Lab, has been shifting more of its work in house, and the agency has been losing creative duties on Pepsi, including high-profile Super Bowl work this year. Currently, the agency’s global Infinti auto account is up for grabs. As the Nissan brand narrows the list of review contenders, it appears TBWA is not advancing in the process to hold on to Infinti, which it has worked on since the late 1990s. (TBWA has been competing for the business with sister Omnicom agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which is believed to have made the cut. It is not clear which Omnicom agency would work with GS&P on Infinti globally.)
TBWA's cornerstone office in Playa del Rey, Calif. has seen a revolving door of top management changes earlier this year with the exit of president Carisa Bianchi and chief creative officer John Norman. The agency’s L.A.-based iconic creative leader, Lee Clow, is semi-retired.
Carroll did his first tour of duty at TBWA predecessor agency Chiat/Day in 1983 where he worked in both L.A. and New York on brands like General Electric, Pizza Hut and Miller Brewing accounts. Six years later, he helped launch Weiss, Whitten, Carroll, Stagliano, a New York shop that whose accounts included Guinness, Citibank and Rossignol. He moved to MVBMS in 1995 as a partner responsible for business like Dunkin’ Donuts and Evian, before returning to TBWA as president in L.A. in 1999. Carroll later took on additional responsibilities as president of the Americas, vice chairman and president of TBWA before assuming the top job.