Y&R Taps Caplan as CMO

NEW YORK Young & Rubicam has hired The Kaplan Thaler Group’s Mitch Caplan as chief marketing officer in charge of new business development for North America, Y&R said today. Caplan starts May 1.

He fills a vacancy left by the December exit of Sally Kennedy, who held the position for 20 months.

Caplan, 46, spent more than two years at Publicis Groupe’s Kaplan Thaler in New York, where he was managing director of business development and integration. During that time, the agency won accounts such as Office Depot, Revlon, Pfizer’s Lipitor, Liz Claiborne and Marshalls.

“He has a remarkable record of winning new business and understands the interactive has to be at the core of our offering,” said Y&R worldwide CEO Hamish McLennan, to whom Caplan reports. “He’s an ambitious guy who wants to get ahead and add value.”

Said Caplan: “I’m not leaving Kaplan Thaler because I’m unhappy. This is just a fantastic opportunity.”

Caplan described Y&R as “one of the most storied and famous brands in the industry,” and said he was also attracted by McLennan’s “vision for Y&R, the changes that he wants to make and his desire to bring back the promise that it once had.”

Before Kaplan Thaler, Caplan was a group account director at Omnicom Group’s Merkley + Partners in New York. Earlier in his career, he was president of Interpublic Group’s Martin Interactive in New York and managing director of the New York and Boston offices of interactive shop Think New Ideas. A Kaplan Thaler representative said it is now looking to fill Caplan’s position.

The hire comes as McLennan seeks a CEO for Y&R’s North American operations here. Chris Jaques left that post in January after just three months in the job.

In the interim, McLennan is steering the New York flagship.

The office was cut this week from Sprint Nextel’s creative review, leaving WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather here and Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco as finalists, with a decision possible on Friday. Estimated account revenue is $40 million.

Y&R is among several agencies pursuing the U.S. Census account, which is worth about $75 annually over four years. That process is in the relatively early stages, with a decision not expected before August.