BBDO Insider Chris Thomas Is the Agency’s New Head of the Americas

Region generates 45% of agency's global revenue

BBDO worldwide CEO Andrew Robertson describes his new CEO of the Americas as a "global citizen."

Indeed, Chris Thomas has worked in the U.K. and most recently Asia, where he was BBDO's CEO of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Along the way, he has grown close to global accounts such as Visa, Mars/Wrigley and Johnson & Johnson. He'll carry forward those relationships in his new job, which he starts in May.

Thomas, who has been based in Singapore, will shift to New York to oversee 21 offices in North America, Central America and South America. Collectively, those offices employ more than 3,000 staffers.

"These are big markets where we have strong agencies. And they're strategically significant to our clients both locally and globally," Robertson said. "Chris' mandate is to further develop the capabilities that we need in order to deliver against our promise—which is the best work that works best—and then grow, drive the growth of what are big numbers. That's his job."

As CEO of the Americas, Thomas fills a vacancy left by the 2013 exit of Troy Ruhanen, who became an evp at BBDO parent company Omnicom Group and, later, global CEO of TBWA. Ruhanen held the regional BBDO role for two years. The Americas region supplies an estimated 45 percent of the agency's total global revenue.

Thomas came into his last regional job via Proximity, the digital arm of BBDO. In fact, while leading Asia, the Middle East and Africa, he continued to serve as global chairman of Proximity as well as chairman of I&S BBDO in Japan. Similarly, he'll retain those roles as CEO of the Americas.

Thomas' responsibilities in Asia, the Middle East and Africa will be absorbed by two other leaders. Jean-Paul Burge, president of Southeast Asia and CEO of Singapore, will become CEO of Asia; and Dani Richa, CEO of the Middle East and North Africa, will take on the rest of Africa.

At the same time, longtime Greater China CEO Carol Potter is leaving the agency after nine successful years. Succeeding her is Tze Kiat Tan, who was managing director of Greater China. In addition, the region's chief creative officer, Wai Foong Leong, adds the title of chairman, and executive planning director Hans Lopez-Vito becomes chief strategy officer.