BBDO picks Rix to join swelling ranks of agency CMOs

Agencies are busily appointing CMOs, some on a global basis, just at a time when clients seem to be getting rid of them.

Omnicom’s BBDO has appointed New York CSO Crystal Rix (below) to the global post (she’s keeping her old job too) hard on the heels of WPP appointing Laurent Ezekiel to the role and Kyla Jacobs to lead North America.

This comes at the same time as McDonald’s has dispensed with the role following the departure of Sylvia Lagnado although her two male lieutenants are now sharing her duties. New Unilever CEO Alan Jope seems to be handling Keith Weed’s old job.

BBDO CEO Andrew Robertson says: “We’ve never had a global chief marketing officer before. Mostly because I’ve never felt we had the right person to do it. Now we do.”

Agencies have always had a raft of new business directors, often handling PR and making the coffee too. Presumably these new global executives will focus just on big global accounts or big North American ones. The move probably also reflects the ever-increasing importance of such new business and the fact that agencies now have to run harder to make the same money as clients cut fees and in-house various functions.

In many ways it’s a thankless task; being nice to everyone when they’re not necessarily nice to you; turning up at endless events and dinners and hoping that you don’t get placed next to a rival or a consultant you really don’t want to talk to.

It’s a shame for agencies – and arguably for advertisers – that the old frequent crossover between the two disciplines now rarely seems to take place. An agency exec who’s been a client probably has a pretty good idea of what clients want and such a client will know what agencies can deliver and (and how they work out their charges.)

Much of the time the new CMOs will be charged with trying to sell the latest shiny new toy – or wheel reinvention – from the agency. In Rix’s case it’s ‘BBDO Works,’ a new planning wheeze.

BBDO is a fine agency. Good luck with that one.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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