TBWA’s Rod Wright Dies at 51

NEW YORK Rod Wright, worldwide director of development at TBWA in London, died Tuesday from complications related to a stroke, the Omnicom Group agency has confirmed. He was 51.

Wright (pictured) joined TBWA in 1998 via its merger with BDDP. In 2001, then-TBWA worldwide CEO Jean-Marie Dru appointed Wright to his current role, in which he focused on recruitment, training and mergers and acquisitions.

Wright was instrumental in the development of TBWA’s joint venture with Hakuhodo in Tokyo — for key global client Nissan — and got the agency involved with Room 13, a worldwide program run by children for children in low-income areas that gives them an outlet for their creativity.

Before assuming the development role, Wright was chief operating officer for the network’s European region in Paris. He also served as acting chairman of Tequila, the agency’s digital direct marketing arm.

“Rod was a gentleman and pleasure to work with. He taught us to be brave and smart and love the business. His passion will always be part of this agency,” said Dru, now worldwide chairman. “The best thing we can do to honor his memory is to try and do something great every day. I know that everybody in our company will miss Rod as much as I do.”

Earlier in his career, Wright held a series of management roles at WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, including chairman of the Asia-Pacific region in Hong Kong and managing director of OgilvyOne in London.

“In the early days of OgilvyOne, he adopted the mantra ‘never sell to a stranger,’ which perhaps more than any other phrase brought respectability to an emergent discipline which sometimes was not given it,” recalled Miles Young, worldwide CEO of The Ogilvy Group, in an e-mail. “He certainly will go down as one of the primary early movers of the world of integrated communications. He believed in it, preached it and practiced well ahead of the game — and with great passion.”

A funeral service will take place April 23 near his home in Gloucestershire, England.

Survivors include his wife, Judy, and two children, Billy and Kitty.