TBWA Reorganizes to Be a 'Less Traditional Model'

Network's Move Away From 'Traditional Regional, Rigid Structure' Aims to Better Serve Multinational Clients

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Omnicom's TBWA Worldwide is undergoing a large global reorganization, a major move to be a "less traditional model" by CEO Troy Ruhanen, who's been in charge less than a year.

The reorganization will involve a "global client market structure," a departure from the traditional regional setup many networks have that's meant to better serve multinational clients. The move will include what the agency says is more-focused senior global executives, rather than more traditional generalized roles.

Troy Ruhanen
Troy Ruhanen

To achieve that, TBWA is appointing three executives -- Perry Valkenburg, James Vincent and Emmanuel Andre -- to the role of international president, each focusing on different disciplines.

Mr. Valkenburg, who is currently president of the European region, will be responsible for developing TBWA's core disciplines, including digital, innovation, design, content and health as well as the merger-and-acquisition strategy for the network.

Mr. Vincent, who was a founding member and CEO of the Apple-dedicated TBWA/Media Arts Lab, where he worked closely with Apple's leaders, will now be in charge of developing new client models for global client businesses and building out new partnership models within the network. Mr. Vincent became CEO of Media Arts Lab in early 2014, when Erica Hoholick returned to the shop as president.

Mr. Andre, currently chief operating officer, will be in charge of TBWA's network culture, training and development programs with the goal of creating "one of the most enviable talent-development programs in the industry," according to the company.

Nick Barham, chief strategy officer of TBWA's Los Angeles office, will now be global chief strategy office (while keeping his current title in Los Angeles).

That Mr. Ruhanen would restructure the agency in a way to better aid client relationships isn't much of a surprise, given his previous global experience running the Americas at BBDO and, most recently, his role at parent company Omnicom prior to joining TBWA in July. While at the holding company level, he was assigned to drive collaboration across agencies for the group's largest accounts like McDonald's, AT&T and Apple.

Mr. Ruhanen said his idea for the reorg came from his time at the Omincom level. That position gave him "the luxury to think about [structure] in a different way," he said. "Clients are restructuring and reinventing every three years."

TBWA's new "global client market structure" is a response to "the change in multinational client structures and the nature of their businesses, away from a traditional, rigid regional structure," the company said in a statement. Fifteen core global markets will all report directly to Mr. Ruhanen, including New York, Los Angeles, Canada, U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Greater China, Singapore, Japan and global client business unit TBWA/Media Arts Lab. Keith Smith, currently international president, will support Mr. Ruhanen with these markets and key global clients, the agency said.

The company will now have a total of five international presidents. Aside from Mr. Smith, Mr. Valkenburg, Mr. Vincent and Mr. Andre, Jean Marie Prenaud has also been international president who oversees global clients. He'll continue in that role.

Said Mr. Ruhanen: "These appointments are a conscious move from a generalist model of operating to a more focused, less traditional model. We have a strong bench of talent to work with at TBWA and these moves are intended to build on the individual strengths of these people, allowing them to be more entrepreneurial and take ownership of the future of our company. These individuals are agents for change and will lead our agency to success in these areas."

TBWA's Digital Arts Network will also get new leadership: Luke Eid, global innovation director for TBWA Worldwide, will become president. Juuso Myllyrinne, global strategy director at TBWA, will be VP and head of strategy. Digital Arts Network was formed in 2012 as an umbrella organization to unify the digital specialists currently working within TBWA, though the Mr. Ruhanen's plan is to have DAN fully integrated within TBWA in the next two years, doing away with it as a separate moniker.

Other moves in the reorganization include officially moving Toronto-based Omnicom agency Juniper Park, which had historically been under sibling agency BBDO, into the TBWA network. The agency said the move will give TBWA a broader footprint in the Canadian market and bolster design capabilities. Juniper Park last year helped pitch the Miller Lite business, which TBWA's Los Angeles office won.

TBWA isn't completely abolishing a regional structure, however. The 15 markets that report directly to Mr. Ruhanen will be excluded from any regional groups, but the company is consolidating the remainder of the offices into regional structures. Europe, Middle East and Africa will be consolidated into two groups headed by Kris Govaerts and Cem Topcuoglu. Mr. Govaerts, CEO of TBWA Belgium, will oversee operations in Western Europe, excluding the Global Client Markets like the U.K. Mr. Topcuoglu, CEO of TBWA Istanbul, will oversee Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Asia Pacific will be divided into three regions including Asia, Oceania and Greater China. Philip Brett will assume the role of president, of Asia, overseeing all three. TBWA said its regional operations will relocate from Hong Kong to Singapore. Paul Bradbury continues to oversee Oceania as CEO of Whybin/TBWA in Australia and New Zealand.

Two key appointments have been made in Greater China to strengthen the network's operations in that region. Nils Andersson will be president and chief creative officer for TBWA/Greater China, joining the agency from Y&R. Joanne Lao, president of TBWA/Hong Kong, moves to the role of CEO for TBWA/Greater China to partner with Mr. Andersson.

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