Weisman Takes Top North American Role at Digitas [Updated]

New regional CEO replaces Kinsella

Digitas shuffled its domestic leadership on Tuesday, promoting Tony Weisman to North American CEO of the Publicis Groupe shop.

Weisman replaces Colin Kinsella, who joined the company from sister shop Razorfish in early 2010 as president, and took on the North American role in October 2011. 

Weisman, 53, spent the past six years as president of Digitas Northwest, leading the digital shop's work—and growth—out of its Boston, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco offices. That included leading "Team Sprint," a dedicated Publicis Groupe unit comprised of staffers from Digitas and Leo Burnett that in late 2011 snagged the telecoms giant's lead creative account from longtime agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.

In Boston, the agency has chalked up wins like Lenovo and the San Francisco office, which opened this past June, subsequently landed digital and creative responsibilities for Taco Bell, adding a second major brand to marquee account eBay.

The Digitas move comes a month after its parent company merged newly acquired LBi with Digitas outside the U.S. Domestically, the Digitas brand remains.

“In DigitasLBi’s accelerated journey to institutionalize and deliver a global offering across the spectrum of digital innovation and technology platforms, we are taking significant leaps forward to fully realize the potential of the 'most complete' digital agency network in the world," Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Lévy said. "Leaders like Tony will be at the forefront of an exceptional start of this journey. I am grateful to Colin for the great job he did as CEO of Digitas North America, and wish him the best of luck.”

Weisman will report to global CEO Luke Taylor

Weisman plans to work closely with Taylor on facilitating the global merger of Digitas and LBi, even though Digitas remains a discrete entity in the U.S. LBi's New York operation was folded into MRY, the youth marketing agency LBi purchased in late 2011.

"Our goal is as quickly as possible to get a unified team and approach and a true global infrastructure," said Weisman. "Most of the clients we talk to are responding very well to the idea."

Not all did. Conflicts between LBi client Volvo and Digitas client GM threw a wrench in the U.S. side of the merger.

Weisman, who will remain based out of Chicago, also will continue continue to work closely on key accounts, including Sprint. "One of the things that I love most about this work is the connection to clients," he said. "It's what drives me, and it fuels me. So I don't expect to be stepping back from that."

According to sources, the agency has been squeezed recently by cutbacks in spending at American Express, another key account. But Weisman said any variations in the agency's workload reflects more the state of the financial industry, rather than the agency's standing with AmEx. "It remains a very long, very healthy, very productive relationship," he said.

About six weeks ago, the agency folded its Stamford office into its New York office, though the lease on its Connecticut office has yet to expire, and some staffers still work remotely from the space. "That was really a holdover from an old org structure and we've known for a while it didn't make a lot of sense to have one group in Stamford and another an hour away in New York," he explained.

The Stamford move also was unrelated to recent staff cuts, according to Weisman, who attributed the cuts to normal fluctuations of the industry.