"I have a real job to do there, but I won't say what it is because I don't want to confess a weakness," Mr. Goudard said.
Chairman-CEO Allen Rosenshine-who hired Mr. Goudard and to whom he will report-wouldn't acknowledge a weakness exists but said, "Jean-Michel's going to help in exactly the area where I want some help."
For the past six years, Mr. Rosenshine has been responsible for BBDO's overseas operations, in addition to his other duties as CEO. It has become too much for one person to handle, he said.
All BBDO's regional CEOs except Tom Clark (North America) will report to Mr. Goudard, 56, who will join BBDO Feb. 1 from the agency he co-founded in 1974, Euro RSCG International.
Whereas at Euro RSCG Mr. Goudard lived in Paris and managed all the company's agencies outside France, for BBDO he will live in New York and oversee all operations outside the U.S.
In addition to managing the international agency network, Mr. Goudard will play an important role with multinational clients. He would have a key management role if BBDO fares well in the $350 million global consumer-care agency consolidation by Germany's Bayer AG.
Bayer wouldn't confirm rumors late last week that BBDO had been selected over DDB Needham Worldwide and Foote, Cone & Belding. But Bayer Advertising Director Heiko von Lanken-Schulz said no more than two agencies will be chosen from the current 48 worldwide. A decision is now expected before Christmas.
Mr. Goudard's arrival will also put him in contention to succeed the 56-year-old Mr. Rosenshine someday. The CEO said: "My purpose in hiring him was not succession. Whatever happens happens."
Mr. Goudard said he has dreamed of moving to New York since 1991. But he agreed with Euro RSCG Chairman-CEO Alain de Pouzilhac to stay until the agency had expanded into all the major regions of the world. Later this month, Euro RSCG will announce expansion into Latin America through acquisitions or partnerships with 10 agencies there.
Mr. de Pouzilhac will take over Mr. Goudard's duties. Steve Dworin, whom Mr. Goudard hired two weeks ago as vice chairman-international, also will help, but he won't serve as a replacement.
CAREER: Co-founded RSCG, 1974. After Eurocom acquired RSCG in 1991, became president of Euro RSCG International, overseeing all operations outside France, including the U.S. Prior to RSCG, was general manager for Young & Rubicam in France and worked in brand management for Procter & Gamble Co.
RESIDENCE: Currently Paris; will move to New York
PERSONAL: Divorced; three children