Interpublic's media operations will be run by Terri Santisi, chief financial officer of IPG Media. Mr. Rosenthal, 54, is being treated for colon cancer and is expected to return at the end of the summer.
Insiders have speculated that Mr. Rosenthal may be leaving the company, but an Interpublic spokeswoman denied that. "We fully support his decision," Mr. Roth said in his memo.
Mr. Rosenthal, a former chief operating officer at MTV Networks, was brought in last year to lead the turnaround of Interpublic's media-buying and -planning operations, which had been hammered by client losses. Mr. Rosenthal was named Interpublic Media Chairman-CEO last May in the days following the company's biggest client defection, General Motors' decision to move its $3.5 billion buying account to Publicis Groupe.
Filling the holes
Since then, he's worked to fill leadership holes and beef up Interpublic's presence in the digital space. During his tenure, Interpublic recruited Nick Brien from promotions agency Arc Worldwide to run Universal McCann and MediaVest's Richard Beaven to lead Initiative in North America. Magna Global recently tapped former BBC America executive Bill Hilary to head up its entertainment division.
Interpublic's media agencies, however, have yet to make the new business headway they'll need to reverse their fortunes. According to RECMA's recent projections for 2006, Interpublic was the only major ad group to see declines in media billings. Interpublic has the fourth-largest media operation in terms of billings, with a 7.4% market share behind leader WPP Group, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group.
Interpublic's decision to unify its media leadership follows the success of rivals WPP and Publicis in coordinating strategies and sharing resources. Media offerings are becoming more central to the holding companies' performance as the media landscape fragments and consumers' habits become more difficult to pinpoint.