Growing TBWA Retools PR

Miller, Rubis Promoted; New Business Also Rewired
LOS ANGELES–Looking to create a consistent global brand identity, TBWA Worldwide has promoted two executives to head up its domestic and international public relations efforts. The agency is also reformulating its new business attack following the departure last week of Kim Haskell, director of business development for North America, to Colby Effler & Partners in Santa Monica, Calif. [Adweek, July 6].
The agency has promoted Jeremy Miller to U.S. public relations director and managing partner in its Venice, Calif., office, and Anastasia Rubis to worldwide public relations director, according to Laurie Coots, the Venice-based chief marketing officer, North America.
Miller, who has handled public relations in Venice since joining that office a year ago, continues in that capacity, while also adding responsibility for PR in the New York and San Francisco offices. He reports to Coots, who in turn reports to Bob Kuperman, president and chief executive officer of the Americas. (The agency’s fourth North American office, in Toronto, handles its own PR duties). “I want to better promote Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York as a whole rather than individually,” Miller said.
Rubis, who began TBWA’s first communication efforts upon joining the New York office in 1990, had been in charge of PR duties in New York and internationally. She will now concentrate solely on the agency’s growing network outside North America, reporting to chairman Bill Tragos and new president and chief executive officer Michael Greenlees.
Rubis said the agency’s rapid worldwide growth necessitated the changes. The former TBWA International recently absorbed BDDP Worldwide in Paris and has grown into the world’s ninth-largest agency, with estimated billings of $6.5 billion. “We’re creating a corporate communications department as we need to,” she said. While Rubis will continue to be based in New York, she said that “in the future, I look forward to there being a [corporate communications specialist] in Europe as well.”
Coots, who leads the agency’s national new business efforts, initiated the Venice office’s first image push in late 1996 by hiring Warren Cowan & Associates, a public relations company in Los Angeles. “We admitted to ourselves that we didn’t know how to do it,” she said.
After her promotion by Kuperman to the new post of chief marketing officer in early 1997, Coots hired Miller from Warren Cowan to be public relations director in Venice, also a new position. Since then, she said, the results have been so positive that the agency is “only beginning to realize the value” of its efforts. “In the beginning, we were good at tooting our own horn,” she said. “Now we’re realizing that it’s much better for our clients to be recognized.”
Coots said she wants the $1.6 billion, four-office TBWA Chiat/Day North American network to be seen as “one agency, one brand,” with each individual office putting a unique “spin” on that brand. “They may be different flavors. But they will all be ice cream,” she said.
Separately, the agency is giving more authority and responsibility to its national new business team following Haskell’s departure, said Coots. The team includes new business managers Jill Jarosz and Karin Herz in Venice and new business director David Rogers and new business manager Jason DeLand in New York.
The agency will not fill Haskell’s position, she added.
“Everybody is gaining a little bit more responsibility,” said Coots, who has helped TBWA Chiat/Day (and the former Chiat/Day) reel in more than $1 billion in new business over her 14-year career.
Haskell’s move was the latest in a string of departures by high-level TBWA Chiat/Day executives in recent weeks that has included president and Nissan worldwide account director Tom Patty in Venice and corporate media director Stacey Lippman in New York.
Coots said the agency’s success has set off a bit of a “poaching” spree. “It goes with the territory,” she said.