DraftFCB Exec to Digitas

NEW YORK DraftFCB’s top new business executive is leaving the agency to join Digitas as president of its Chicago office, a position that has been open since this summer.

Tony Weisman was chief growth officer at the Interpublic Group agency created by the merger of Draft and FCB earlier this year. (Prior to that, he served the same role at Draft in Chicago for three years, following nearly two decades in account management at Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett.)

Weisman denied his departure and DraftFCB’s Wal-Mart account loss were related. “It’s a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful agency,” he said of joining Digitas, an independent Boston-based interactive and direct marketing shop.

Since Digitas has recruited to fill the Chicago position for six months, and he resigned last week, sources said it was unlikely he knew the account loss was coming before talking to Digitas.

Still, as chief growth officer, Weisman helped organize the controversial Nobu 57 dinner that contributed to Julie Roehm’s departure from Wal-Mart.

Weisman was critical to DraftFCB’s effort in winning the Wal-Mart account, which collapsed after the retailer found the process “tainted” by marketing exec Roehm’s alleged violations of the company’s strict ethics. Roehm was ousted last week and the pitch was reopened with DraftFCB ineligible to participate.

At Digitas, Weisman will head up its Chicago office following the ouster of Barbara Mousigian in July. Mousigian was pushed out after a rocky period for Digitas in which it lost business from Ameriprise and Best Buy, which the Chicago office handled. Her title had been general manager.

“We’re very excited about Tony Weisman joining the agency and have been for some time now,” said Laura Lang, president of Digitas. “I’m personally delighted to add such a talented leader to my executive team.”

Digitas in Chicago recently expanded its account with Whirlpool to be the lead interactive agency for all of its brands, which include KitchenAid, Maytag and Jenn-Air. The agency previously worked only on KitchenAid.

Digitas’ net income fell in the third quarter due to severance costs from cutting 50 employees [Adweek Online, Oct. 26]. The company reported Q3 income of $6.2 million, or 7 cents per share, down from $8 million in the year-ago period. (Digitas took a onetime restructuring charge of $2.1 million from laying off 50 staffers from its agencies, which include its namesake shop, Modem Media and MBC.)