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TBWA Worldwide is moving aggressively to bolster its New York office with the goal of transforming it into the linchpin of its global network.

That's a tall order for an agency that currently stands in the shadow of the Playa del Rey, Calif., office, considered one of the most creative shops in the business.

But strengthening the New York office of TBWA/Chiat/Day is a top priority for Michael Greenlees, president-CEO of TBWA Worldwide, and Bob Kuperman, president-CEO of the Americas. Mr. Greenlees is relocating to New York to build the Omnicom Group network, and Mr. Kuperman is expected to spend more time on the East Coast.


Their first moves came last week, with the appointment of two new top executives at the New York office. Carl Johnson, 40, was named to the newly created post of New York president-CEO. He had been CEO of TBWA/GGT Simons Palmer, London. And David Page, 43, was named executive creative director of the office, from executive creative director-senior partner at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, a post he was named to just four months ago.

Mr. Page replaces Eric McClellan, who left the agency earlier to free-lance. New York Managing Director Mary Maroun, who had held the top post in that office, is expected to leave in the coming months.

The New York office-which absorbed most of the fallout from the 1995 merger of TBWA and Chiat/Day-has been scrutinized for its high level of staff turnover and relatively low level of standout creative in recent years. By comparison, TBWA's West Coast office has been on a new-business tear during the last two years and has created celebrated campaigns for such marketers as Apple Computer and Taco Bell.

"One of the first challenges will be to ensure that the New York office has its own sense of identity," Mr. Johnson said in an interview last week from his home in London.

He said the view of the New York office as a weak sibling to the Playa del Rey operation is "a perception problem that we need to solve."

Mr. Johnson said his charge will be to raise the quality of creative from the office.

"Strong creative work sells more work to clients. It keeps clients happy, so you'll win more business, then you'll make money," he said.


"The reason I'm focused on creative is because it's the best business thing to do," Mr. Johnson said.

The New York shifts follow the appointment of former Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG executive Tom Carroll as president-CEO of the Playa del Rey office. Messrs. Johnson and Carroll both report to Mr. Kuperman. Mr. Page is expected to work closely with Lee Clow, TBWA Worldwide chief

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