Five weeks ago we speculated (go on, predicted) that there would be big changes at Omnicom (and at Publicis Groupe) following the failure of the two ad giants’ proposed $35bn merger.
The first such has come to pass with Omnicom exec Troy Ruhanen (left) replacing long-serving TBWA boss Tom Carroll. Ruhanen, who has worked at both BBDO and TBWA, had been charged at Omnicom with improving relations with its biggest clients, including Apple and McDonald’s – both of which had been showing signs of restlessness. Apple is a TBWA account.
TBWA is an odd sort of global ad agency. Originally it was formed by Bill Tragos and others to be a Europe-centric network but, when that didn’t work, fell into Omnicom’s lap.
Since then it has been the subject (or should that be object?) of numerous mergers, most notably with Chiat\Day in the US (which brought in Apple) and Simons Palmer and GGT in the UK. The one solid object in these shifting sands has always been Apple, handled by Lee Clow’s TBWA Media Arts Lab.
Apple is reported to be rocky although, after a rough two years or so, Clow and co. have produced some outstanding work recently. It’s not too difficult to see why Ruhanen has been parachuted in.
Omnicom CEO John Wren says: “Under the leadership of Tom Carroll, TBWA is recognized worldwide for its strong culture and award-winning creativity. At Omnicom, we place considerable emphasis on succession planning, and Tom and I have long agreed that Troy Ruhanen would be the right person to take the helm of TBWA. His experience in leading Omnicom agencies across geographies and categories makes this a seamless leadership transition that will build upon TBWA’s capabilities and reputation as one of the best in the business.”
We now wait to see if Wren rings the changes at one of his other big networks DDB, which is not flavour of the month with McDonald’s. His third network, BBDO, is motoring nicely under Brit Andrew Robertson although it has lost its crown as most-awarded big network to WPP’s Ogilvy.
Robertson’s seat is, presumably, safe although he might wish to move into a rather bigger one. That, though, is occupied by Wren.