DJE Promotes VanderMolen to ‘Activate’ Edelman Holding Company

Daniel J. Edelman Inc (DJE) announced this morning that it has promoted Alan VanderMolen to vice chairman of the Edelman holding company. The move is an effort to build on the business’ holding company model with PR as the focus.

Looking back, Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman and executive chairman of DJE, points out that “DJE was the original name of the company.” Over the years, Edelman has come to the forefront. Now, the company wants to diversify. Doing that requires “activating the holding company.”

“We want to make it clear to the marketplace that we want to compete with Omnicom, et. al. But they put at their center their advertising business and we put PR at the center,” said Edelman.

“We’re unique in being a PR-centered holding company. We’re an example for all the rest,” Edelman added.

In this newly-created position, VanderMolen will oversee the StrategyOne research business; RUTH, the company’s integrated marketing business; and MATTER, the sports and entertainment marketing arm. He’ll also help to lead Edelman sister agency Zeno Group and add to the businesses under the DJE umbrella.

VanderMolen will report to Edelman and Daniel Edelman will continue as chairman of DJE. VanderMolen joined the company in 2002 as president of the Asia Pacific region. He’ll continue leading the Global Practices and Diversified Insights Businesses, his most recent role.

Among the acquisition areas of possibility for DJE is digital media buying, experiential, and research.

“That’s where our clients have real needs,” VanderMolen told us on a conference call this morning. “We think PR has moved to the center of marketing services. The three areas mentioned are the three most important and we’ll continue to scale our existing company.”

To that end, there will also be an effort to expand Zeno Group internationally, particularly across the U.K., Germany, China, France and India.

“Zeno is now a $15 million business in the U.S.,” said Edelman, “We need it to be more the size of GolinHarris. We’re getting to the size now where conflict is a serious issue. We think Barby [Siegel, CEO of Zeno Group] and her gang have the capability to get to that point.”

Just last month, Edelman announced a number of leadership changes at the PR firm, including the promotion of Matthew Harrington to COO, another new position. Taken together, Edelman described these growth moves as both horizontal, across DJE, and vertical, in an effort to grow the core Edelman brand.

“We’re trying to evolve in two ways,” said Edelman, who described the development of a PR-centered holding company as such: “In many ways, this is good for PR.”