At DDB: Kaess Rises, Needham Falls

“Next Generation’ Will Lead the Rebranded Agency Post-Reinhard
NEW YORK-On the eve of its 50th anniversary and with an eye on the millennium, DDB Needham Worldwide is grooming its “next generation of leadership” and has dropped the venerable Needham from its name.
In a move which suggests agency chairman and CEO Keith Reinhard has chosen a successor, Ken Kaess was promoted last week to chairman of the agency’s newly formed worldwide operating committee.
“Ken has done a terrific job, first in rejuvenating our New York office,” Reinhard said in a statement. He said Kaess, 44, had a “critical talent as both a problem solver and unifier.”
Separately, the network will now be called DDB Worldwide Communications Group. Losing the Needham name ends a process that began in 1994, when a new logo was created without it.
Top executives were said to be traveling at press time and could not be reached for comment.
The agency has also instituted a raft of management shifts, Kaess’ promotion foremost among them. Kaess adds his new duties to his current role as president of North America. Reporting to him on the worldwide committee: James Best, chairman of BMP DDB, London, and president of northern Europe operations; Michael Bray, managing director worldwide accounts; Keith Bremer, DDB’s chief financial officer; and Herve Broussard, chairman and CEO of DDB France and president of Southern Europe.
“It is the first step in a clear statement of succession,” said Peter Tate, president of DDB, New York. “This group represents a new generation of worldwide leadership.” (No member of the committee is older than 49.)
The worldwide operating committee is also a “way of giving these guys global experience,” a source noted.
Offices in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand continue to report to John Bradstock, 64, who remains president of those regions. Bernard Brochand, 59, president of DDB International, will continue to oversee operations in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa.
Bradstock and Brochand will continue reporting to Reinhard. As one observer said: Bradstock “has always played the role of cleaning up after the elephant, and there’s only one elephant he’s willing to clean up after.”
Since taking over as president of North America last May, Kaess is given credit for helming U.S. and Canadian operations during a period of solid growth. Last year, DDB North America’s billings grew 20.8 percent to $3.381 billion. And despite the designation of Kaess as a successor, sources said Reinhard will not retire for at least another three or four years. ƒ