Omnicom's BBDO has named Chris Thomas CEO of the Americas region, filling a post that has been vacant since Troy Ruhanen left in September 2013.
Mr. Thomas was previously CEO of Asia, Middle West and Africa. He will retain his role as chairman of I&S BBDO Japan and chairman of Proximity Worldwide, the digital and direct arm of BBDO. As CEO of the Americas region, Mr. Thomas will oversee 21 BBDO agencies in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, reporting to BBDO Worldwide President-CEO Andrew Robertson. Mr. Thomas will move to New York in May.
Mr. Robertson said the appointment was not strictly part of a succession plan, saying he has no plans to exit anytime soon. Instead, he said it was more about the agency being able to fill senior regional roles internally for eventual succession and to help it grow for the next five years.
Mr. Ruhanen was said to have been part of a previous succession strategy as head of the Americas region, but he left to take an Omnicom role overseeing, in part, client relationships. Mr. Ruhanen was named chief executive of sibling TBWA Worldwide last summer.
"These changes demonstrate the benefits of our commitment to strong succession planning and will further strengthen the leadership team that will help deliver our goal of the world's best work, year after year, and through that, growth for the next five years…and beyond," said Mr. Robertson in a statement.
Mr. Thomas has been in Asia for nine years. Prior to that, he was CEO at Proximity in London from 2001 to 2006. "Chris has led a sustained transformation of our network there into the most creative and effective in the region," said Mr. Robertson in the statement. "Chris established our offering in West and East Africa and has provided Proximity Worldwide with the leadership and glue it needs. He is truly a global citizen who will have a valuable impact on his new time zone."
Other changes as a result of Mr. Thomas' move: Jean-Paul Burge, president of Southeast Asia and CEO of BBDO Singapore, becomes chairman-CEO of BBDO Asia; Dani Rocha, chairman-CEO of MMDO Middle East and North Africa, adds the rest of Africa to his responsibilities.
Carol Potter, president-CEO of Greater China, will be leaving the company to pursue another opportunity. Her successors will be Tze Kiat Tan, who is being promoted from managing director to CEO; Wai Foong Leong, who will become chairman and chief creative officer; and Hans Lopez Vito , who will be chief strategy officer.