Executive ‘Restructuring’ at TBWA

By Patrick Coffee 


Troy Ruhanen, who succeeded Tom Carroll as president/CEO of TBWA Worldwide last Summer, announced an exhaustive series of executive and regional/structural changes at the agency in a classic Friday news dump.

There’s a lot to review here, so stick with us.


Nick Barham, who was elevated from planner to co-ECD and eventually global director at W+K before TBWA hired him as its top strategist in 2013, will now add global chief strategy officer to his existing role. In addition to leading the LA team, he will also handle the global network’s “Disruption” practice.

Perry Valkenberg, formerly president of TBWA Europe, will now be “president, international — global operations.” He’ll oversee the Digital Arts Network, Worldhealth, and Mergers/Acquisitions operations.

MAL co-founder James Vincent, participant in an unfortunate email exchange with Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, will be co-president, international along with network veteran Emmanuel Andre. Andre most recently spent more than four years as COO of TBWA Worldwide while Vincent has been president of MAL since 2006. Emmanuel will handle talent development and Vincent will work on the client side.

The Digital Arts Network also saw promotions: Luke Eid, who became global innovation director only ten months ago, will be its president and Juuso Myllrinne (who was promoted to global director of strategy at the same time) will be VP and head of strategy.

On the creative side, TBWA poached Nils Andersson, who was CCO of Y&R’s Shanghai operations for more than five years, to lead creative for TBWA\Greater China. (Joanne Lao of TBWA\Hong Kong was promoted from MD to CEO; she will work with Andersson.)

In a statement, Ruhanen called the changes “a conscious move…to a more focused, less traditional model.” The idea is that TBWA will go more aggressively global in an attempt to better serve its clients around the world and that each of the executives promoted today will “take ownership” of his/her respective operations. No generalists, these.

The leaders of the agency’s fifteen “core global markets” will report to Ruhanen, who will be supported by Keith Smith (formerly president international, now president international — global markets).

Ruhanen also reorganized the various “traditional regions,” consolidating the EMEA into two led by Istanbul CEO Cem Topcuoglu and Belgium CEO Kris Govaerts. The Asia Pacific area will now be split into three parts (East, South, and China) with a headquarters in Singapore instead of Hong Kong; that move reflects an “alignment with many of the region’s clients.”

The agency even added a new name to its fold: Omincom’s Juniper Park, based in Toronto, joins the TBWA network immediately.

Of course, you all want to know how this will affect the work produced by TBWA Worldwide and its many creative departments. The most likely answer is “not at all.”