At a global management meeting in Puerto Rico last week, executives of the newly rechristened DDB Worldwide Communications Group unveiled the formation of a worldwide operating committee, headed by North American President Ken Kaess, 44.
The chairman post of the committee is designed to help groom Mr. Kaess, heir apparent to DDB Chairman-CEO Keith Reinhard, for global management.
Mr. Reinhard, 64, said the worldwide role will allow Mr. Kaess "to get to know all of the operations under the DDB flag."
Mr. Kaess, along with DM9 DDB Brazil President Nizam Guanaes, 40, also will join DDB's executive committee.
Mr. Kaess' first global task will be heading up DDB's year 2000 profit-planning efforts. He will work closely with four other executives also tapped to join the committee. They are James Best, 45, chairman of BMP DDB London and president of Northern Europe; Michael Bray, 48, managing director-worldwide accounts; Keith Bremer, 44, chief financial officer; and Herve Brossard, 49, chairman-CEO of DDB France and president of Southern Europe.
In three other global promotions, former President-CEO of Southeast Asia John Zeigler, 45, moves to the new post of president of Beyond DDB Worldwide, the agency's non-traditional advertising arm. His successor is Greg Taucher, currently manager of multinational accounts, Asia.
Page Thompson, 49, president of DDB's Optimum Media, takes on the additional title of worldwide media director for the overall agency. Alan Pilkington, 56, chairman of the agency's Chicago office, takes on the additional title of worldwide counsel for corporate change.
Mr. Reinhard admits Mr. Pilkington's new title is "unique," but said his duties mainly will be internally focused.
These three executives also report to Mr. Kaess.
A FAREWELL TO NAME
Dropping Needham from the agency name had been expected. Mr. Reinhard, who came up through the Needham side -- DDB Needham Worldwide was created by the 1986 merger of Doyle Dane Bernbach International and Needham Harper Worldwide -- said he expects some executive grumbling from the Needham ranks, but not much.
"We were careful to consult with the people who we thought would have problems," said Mr. Reinhard.
In the end, Mr. Reinhard summed up the name change simply as a "marketing decision."
"It's a step in our branding," he said. "It's the DDB name that is recognized around the world."
Currently, only 40 of DDB's 206 offices use the Needham name. Mr. Reinhard expects Needham to be completely phased out by the year 2000.
The agency reported worldwide gross income of about $1.6 billion in 1998. Its clients include McDonald's Corp., Volkswagen AG, Bayer AG, Anheuser-Busch and