Farrell, CEO of Publicis’ SAMS, to Exit

BOSTON Publicis Groupe today said John Farrell would step down as president and CEO of the holding company’s Specialized Agencies and Marketing Services (SAMS) operation. He will depart on July 1, 2009.

Farrell joined Publicis Groupe in 2003 as a result of its acquisition of agency group Bcom3, where he then served as global CEO of ad shop DMB&B.

Under Farrell’s leadership, SAMS has grown to represent more than 35 percent of overall revenue, an increase of 12 percent-plus since his arrival, Publicis said.

SAMS units include U.S. i-shop Digitas and its burgeoning global network, as well as communications agencies Kekst in the U.S. and Freud in the U.K. Farrell was “instrumental in inspiring” those three acquisitions, among others, per Publicis.

Publicis chairman and CEO Maurice Levy said in a statement: “I am very sorry that John has taken this decision, as he has done an outstanding job for us defining the strategy of SAMS, and building the business to its current important level. It’s typical of John’s professionalism that he has agreed to continue working with me…on executing our transition plans for SAMS over the coming months.”

“This was a tough decision for me, as my five years at the Publicis Groupe have been some of the most exciting of my career,” Farrell said. “I am now looking forward excitedly to the next phase of my professional life.”

His future plans were not disclosed.