Publicis USA Revamps Its Strategic-Planning Arm

Shop Goes on Hiring Spree to Help Bolster 'Consumer Understanding'

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NEW YORK ( -- Publicis USA is overhauling its strategy-planning department, announcing a raft of hires with various backgrounds and new structure with an eye to better understand consumers.

But what might sound like a game of agency musical chairs and buzzword bingo already has buy-in from one major marketer.

"The need for deeper, and more relevant, insights into today's consumer has become more important than ever," Jeff Davidoff, VP-brand marketing and communications at Whirlpool Corp., said in an e-mail, and Publicis' "unique" and "ahead of the curve" approach to strategy planning will be a boon to business, he said.

Meet the 'strategy directors'
Publicis has assembled a team of seven experts from diverse backgrounds, with additional hires in the pipeline. The new team of "strategy directors," based in New York, are: David Gleason, most recently director of insights and channel planning at Ogilvy; Tanvir Hannan, Ipsos-ASI market-research expert; Alasdair Lloyd-Jones, former planning director at Deutsch and Ogilvy, Los Angeles; Linda Krauss, previously planning director and therapeutic market-research director at Arnold Worldwide; Patrick O'Hare, former head of planning at Sticky Grey Worldwide; Abigail Posner, former director of brand planning and Kid Think at DDB, New York; and Vanessa Roman, most recently associate planning director at BBDO.

"The strategic and planning industry needs a revamp," Susan Gianinno, chairman-CEO of Publicis Groupe's North America arm, said in an interview. "It's not well-equipped to understand people today."

Amid the rise of user-generated content, "we think the next area we should be focusing on is consumer understanding," Ms. Gianinno said.

Building on Hider hire
The moves build upon Publicis' hire last year of Mark Hider, exec VP-director of engagement strategy for Publicis USA. Mr. Hider will lead Publicis' new strategic initiative, which is slated to be rolled out to Publicis' Dallas and Seattle offices in the near-term.

The team will work across Publicis' roster of clients -- which includes BMW, Coca-Cola Co., Garnier, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble, T-Mobile and Whirlpool -- in two ways; each will have client responsibilities, based on their expertise (for example, Mr. Hannan will work primarily with P&G), and they will also offer strategic-planning services to clients on a project basis.
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