New SMG prez is no Bob Brennan

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Although Nick Brien last week was named Starcom MediaVest Group's president of U.S. corporate business development, he is not the replacement for outgoing Chief Operating Officer Bob Brennan, stresses CEO Jack Klues.

"I knew Bob Brennan, and he's no Bob Brennan," quipped Mr. Klues. Mr. Brien, 38, is moving over to Bcom3 Group's Starcom MediaVest in Chicago from his position as CEO of Bcom3's Leo Burnett Ltd. in London. Mr. Klues said although Mr. Brien is expected to take on some of the duties of Mr. Brennan, including prospecting for new business and diversifying the company, he's not the next chief operating officer.

"Should we fill Bob's job-and I'm not going to-that should be someone from the inside of our own Starcom organization," he said.

Mr. Brien also will function as senior adviser to Donna Salvatore, CEO of MediaVest in New York, where the agency has the youngest talent, according to Mr. Klues, and where the new Kraft business will be parked. (See related story, P. 1.)

CLOSE TIES

When it was announced two months ago that Mr. Brennan would be leaving Starcom MediaVest to become president of Leo Burnett, Chicago, speculation in the industry raged about his possible successor.

Messrs. Brennan and Klues have maintained a close working relationship. In an Advertising Age profile of Mr. Klues (Sept. 18, P. M-6), Mr. Brennan said the two men forged a "bond of complete trust" and vowed never to separate. One month later, Mr. Brennan accepted a job offer from Leo Burnett.

Although Burnett and Starcom MediaVest are part of the same family and are in the same building, Mr. Brennan's new office is on the 20th floor and Mr. Klues' is on the ninth.

"I'll work with Jack and Nick through the first part of the year," said Mr. Brennan, who first worked with Mr. Brien in 1995 when Mr. Brennan was made international media director for Leo Burnett. Mr. Brien was then the European, Middle East and Africa media director. "What is interesting about Nick coming back to Starcom is that he was there at its birth. Nick worked with Jack and me in developing and writing the original business plan for Starcom. And Nick came over and actually presented to the Leo Burnett board of directors with Jack and me and helped us sell it."

According to Mr. Klues, Starcom MediaVest plans to expand its efforts in direct response, event and sports marketing and in the entertainment-programming business. "Nick's job is going to be to incubate on behalf of SMG in the U.S. some of these ancillary services that could grow into businesses in their own right. And these services will then be applied to MediaVest clients and Starcom clients."

The appointment of Mr. Brien does not clear up the confusion some in the industry have as to whether Starcom MediaVest Group is one company or two companies within a holding group. The group was formed this year after Burnett, owner of Starcom, merged with MacManus Group, owner of MediaVest, to form Bcom3.

ONE COMPANY OR TWO?

Starcom MediaVest executives have said the company exists outside the U.S. as one brand but inside the country as two. Mr. Brien's title as president of U.S. Starcom MediaVest Group appears to suggest it is moving toward becoming one company here. Mr. Klues denied this.

"We are really two clear and distinct brands in the United States, and nothing will change that. Starcom is the global lead brand for us, and we have MediaVest offices where it makes strategic sense for us and our clients."

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