How John Wren Manages to Keep It All in the Omnicom Family

Chrysler's Jeep Is Latest Marketer to Move Account Within No. 1 Holding Company

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What's in the Omnicom family tends to stay in the Omnicom family. Chrysler Group's Jeep is no exception, and Omnicom CEO John Wren likes it that way.
Omnicom CEO John Wren
Omnicom CEO John Wren

With last week's announcement that Jeep, a client of BBDO, Detroit, had awarded a national brand assignment to Omnicom's newly formed Cutwater agency in San Francisco, the automaker became the latest in a list of marketers kept within the holding company.

A year ago, when Dell shifted its consumer TV account from DDB, Chicago, it went to Omnicom sibling BBDO, Atlanta. At the same time, Frito-Lay's Doritos work left BBDO -- only to end up at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Not long before those shifts, Visa moved from BBDO to TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles, and Snickers went the same way: from BBDO to TBWA Worldwide. Collectively, these companies represent roughly $700 million in media spending -- all of it staying within Omnicom.

While the No. 1 holding company prides itself in staying out of individual agencies' client relations, it's hard to believe the hand of Mr. Wren -- who was not available for comment -- isn't behind a number of Omnicom-only reviews. In February 2006, for example, Advertising Age reported that at the time of the Visa USA review, Mr. Wren persuaded Susanne Lyons, Visa's exec VP-chief marketing officer, to limit the review to TBWA and Goodby rather than holding an open pitch.

By effectively folding TBWA San Francisco and letting Cutwater spring up in its place, Mr. Wren has created a shop with all the creative talent and structural backbone of TBWA. But, in disconnecting it from the greater TBWA network, Cutwater becomes the perfect candidate for handling some of the work other Omnicom powerhouse agencies can't touch due to conflicts.

And speaking of Chrysler, while Mr. Wren's top client is on the block, Omnicom boss is still in the driver's seat when it comes to auto advertising, with Nissan at TBWA/Chiat/Day, Mitsubishi at BBDO, Subaru at DDB and Volkswagen at DDB abroad. General Motors Corp. yanked Saturn from Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in January; the agency now is a contender in Hyundai's review.

Omnicom's DaimlerChrysler revenue last year slipped about 2% from 2005, but it's grown from $257 million in 1999 to $410 million in 2006. Omnicom, though, grew far faster, so share of revenue from its top client fell from 5% in '99 to 3.6% in '06.

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Jean Halliday contributed to this report.
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