When Tom Hollerbach, 47, was removed unexpectedly as president last year at BBDO in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the im-mediate talk was of finding some other place for him in the Omnicom family.
But Hollerbach had another idea. "Independence is the better way to go," he said, having moved east to Baltimore as president and partner with chairman and chief creative officer Allan Charles at TBC. "I looked at another multinational. I looked at the client side, then at something entrepreneurial, to really having equity."
Hollerbach now has what the holding company couldn't offer: a truly personal stake in the ad business, with clients as lofty and challenging as The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, LendingTree and Yellow Book.
And according to Hollerbach, being regional doesn't mean being second-rate. He points out that TBC offers general marketing advertising, interactive, PR, direct marketing—"and none of it is half-assed, either."
Charles, Hollerbach's new partner, said that TBC "has always been an interesting regional agency. Now we're trying to make it more national. Tom will not only be good for new business, and certainly help me manage the agency overall, but one of the best parts of his joining us is his strategic insight and account planning. He's a tremendous, decisive thinker."
Charles added, "[Hollerbach's] progressive San Francisco experience is particularly valued as the cutting edge of agency integration. All I can say is that we've been in business for 30 years, and we've been looking for someone like him for 30 years."
Hollerbach said his goal at the new agency goes beyond bottom-line attributes of new-business building, though he expects to do that, too. He said, "Personally, I'd like to see them grow regionally and nationally, but do it in a way that enhances their reputation and creates a good work environment."
Hollerbach's even cool with the change in weather. "The agency is air-conditioned," he said, laughing.