The Player: Krause has delicate task of melding Publicis offices

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When Publicis Groupe's Publicis Mid-America, Chicago, makes the move to New York this week in an office merger, Barry Krause believes the agency won't skip a beat.

"We will be handling this almost the way a heart transplant is handled," said Mr. Krause, the former chairman-CEO of the Chicago office who now becomes the chairman-CEO of Publicis in New York, effective Oct. 3. "There will never be a point where anything is disconnected. The old heart will be connected until we're in New York, and then the new heart starts running."

If that's an apt analogy, then Mr. Krause, 48, is the surgeon doing the lion's share of the work. Mr. Krause is overseeing a merger that doubles Publicis in New York's billings to $400 million with clients such as L'Oreal, Whirlpool, Club Med, FujiFilm and BMW North America.

To that end, he has done everything from supervise a transfer of data from server to server, to meeting with concerned clients.

"I believe that any time there's change, a client's antennae are going to be raised," he said. "That's why we really looked at this on an account-by-account basis and looked at the work flow and the relationships. We didn't make a unilateral decision. We spoke to each client and they're comfortable with it."

Yet if things are happening fast and furious, it's nothing new to someone who draws much of his experience from running the ultimate fast-food account, McDonald's, for Leo Burnett Co. When he began working on the account in the mid-1980s, executives from McDonald's Corp. told him one important fact.

"They said, `We have the shortest shelf-life of any product available anywhere.' What they meant was, they had a 10-minute holding time on their burgers," he said. "In order to generate enough sales velocity, it meant 17 million people had to walk through their restaurants every day. So this was the time before anybody starting used the phrase `integrated marketing,' but we put together a group of people that included a strategist, an artist who could draw as we thought, a technologist and a gourmet chef. And we really came up with such interesting solutions because this group of people thought about things differently."

continue innovation

Mr. Krause worked at Burnett for 15 years. He later became president of Publicis & Hal Riney, Chicago, and when that agency morphed into Publicis Mid-America he was named chairman-CEO in 1998. He was also included in Ad Age's "Agency Innovators of the 90s" and in Crain's Chicago Business' "40 Under 40" list in 1992.

Now he hopes to continue his innovative ways in this latest venture.

"When this proposal was first presented to me, I just thought about mixing all the disciplines and getting them to work together," Mr. Krause said. "To me, my first job when I get to New York is to knock down walls and get people working together who have never been asked to work together before."

Fast Facts

Name: Barry Krause

Age: 48

Now: Chairman-CEO, Publicis in New York

Challenge: To provide continuity to clients after consolidating Publicis Mid-America into the New York office.

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