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To Ex-MPG CEO, Mosaic Move Is All In The 'Feet'

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For Jim Rose, who recently resigned his post as CEO of Havas' Media Planning Group North America to lead promotional outfit Mosaic, the move is an attempt to be part of a growing trend in marketing—what he calls "closing the last three feet of the sale."

"If you really believe that communication is everything, that interacting with the customer is the most important thing you do, then Mosaic provides a pretty powerful approach to building a brand," said Rose, now CEO of Mosaic in Irving, Texas.

Rose joins presidents Bill Lee and Tony Lasorda, as well as new CFO Kelly Parsons, in guiding the promotions agency, which emerged from the bankruptcy of its Canadian holding-company parent, Mosaic Group, 16 months ago. Rose replaces acting CEO Al Castaldi, who returns to his full-time job as managing director of JLL Partners, a New York-based private-equity firm that bought Mosaic out of Chapter 11 reorganization in July 2003 for $67 million.

With promotion spending up 9.7 percent to $288 billion in 2003, according to a survey this year by the Promotion Marketing Association, the Mosaic division has seen its revenue grow tenfold over the past five years, Lee said. Despite its parent's troubles, the unit—formerly known as Mosaic Sales Solutions—was considered the jewel among other businesses acquired by the holding company during the booming 1990s.

"The bankruptcy side is already well behind them," said Rose, who said he was contacted for the job by a headhunter.

The 43-year-old executive left MPG as it juggles two media reviews that are crucial to its future: defending its $500 million Volkswagen business and its $300 million Intel account. Rose said he has continued to consult with MPG on those businesses since leaving last month.

At Mosaic, he will be running an operation that has provided promotions and sales teams for clients such as Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, American Express, Best Buy, AT&T and Nike.

Mosaic is providing in-store service for one of its biggest clients, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, as part of a two-year deal signed in September. In addition to bringing out a trained sales force for Buena Vista products—which include DVDs for Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone—at stores like Best Buy, Mosaic provides sales data to the client for all locations.

A variety of factors have driven the growth of promotional spending since 2000, including the increasing sophistication of sales-tracking metrics and the need to prove the effectiveness of each marketing dollar to clients operating in a lean economic environment, said industry experts.

"Promotion may not have the glamour of a Super Bowl ad, but it's where more of the money is going because you can prove that it drives incremental sales," said Dennis Duffy, president of Emergence in Atlanta, a multichannel-branding specialist.

Lee said the hiring of Rose—who joined MPG in 2002 after stints as CEO at QXL Ricardo in London and at United Business Media—is meant to show that Mosaic is a big-time player in a growing field. "We believe that what we're doing today in the next 10 years will change the marketplace," Lee said. "It's not about price; it's about attitude. … We want to be the bright light in the marketplace."