Linda Kaplan Thaler Leaving Publicis Groupe to Go Solo

By Patrick Coffee 

Linda Kaplan Thaler, the longtime CEO and chief creative officer of the Kaplan Thaler Group and chairman of what was known as Publicis Kaplan Thaler (now Publicis New York), will step down from her position within the holding company at the end of the week.

In addition to agency executive and creative leader, Kaplan Thaler has also played the roles of bestselling author and reality TV star–and in the immediate future she will focus on promoting Grit to Great, the fourth book she has written with Truth Initiative CEO Robin Koval, who served as CEO of PKT until 2013. Additional plans include the launch of her own, presumably independent production company.

Various parties have credited Kaplan Thaler with developing such classic campaigns and mascots as the Aflac duck, the “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” Toys R Us theme, the Kodak Moments concept and Herbal Essences totally organic experiences, among others. She has won a slew of awards from every relevant organization and was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame last year.

This step may be seen as the natural conclusion of a process that began when Publicis New York merged with Kaplan Thaler (which she co-founded in 1997) in 2012 and later reverted to its previous name after parting ways with president and CCO Rob Feakins, who was himself eventually replaced by Andy Bird of Publicis London. Kaplan Thaler accepted the chairman title when the merger became official and played a gradually smaller role in the agency’s daily operations moving forward.

Here’s the internal memo from Andrew Bruce, president and CEO of Publicis North America.

Linda will be leaving us at the close of the week. There, the bandaid has been ripped off and now I can stop writing openings over and over. It’s not easy to announce something like this. Linda’s one of a kind and those of us that have worked alongside her will seriously miss the passion, energy and ideas that spring from her. They are overflowing and have served her, and us, very, very well.

Linda has won just about everything there is to win out there. Last year her astonishing career was recognized by the Advertising Hall of Fame with her richly deserved induction. Her body of work is packed with iconic campaigns and her leadership and energy has shaped talent throughout the years. This is not the closing chapter however. Not at all. Linda will be pursuing her passions with a litany of speaking engagements for her best–selling book Grit to Great. And in her spare time a new production company will be launched. A walk in the park for this tireless entrepreneur!

Maurice said it best: “Linda is a force in this business and one of the best creative people I have had the pleasure of working with. She knows how to create memorable campaigns that shape brands and fuel businesses. I wish her the very best in her new endeavors. She will be missed”

Today we recognize and acknowledge Linda’s incredible impact on our agency while wishing her every success on the journey ahead. There’s no question, her path forward will be just as bright as the one Linda has already blazed. And we will be cheering her on every step of the way.

Join me in a chorus of thanks and our very best wishes. You can reach out to her at her new email address:

Light it up, Linda!