Vogel, former Marine, gets serious

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Mike Vogel got a standing ovation Nov. 6 when he told his staff at FCB Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., he had been approached for the top job at PentaMark Worldwide.

Mr. Vogel, president-CEO of the FCB office, will face what a former underling called "the most serious job he's had to date" when he takes the helm of PentaMark, the new Omnicom Group agency that will be formed to handle DaimlerChrysler Corp.'s $2.4-billion consolidated, global creative and media account. Omnicom and its BBDO, Troy, Mich., office won the business Nov.3 in a hotly contested shootout with FCB.

Mr. Vogel's big new job offer got a less enthusiastic reception from FCB's parent, True North Communications, Chicago. The holding company is wrestling with how it will reconcile Mr. Vogel's new job with his current employment contract. BBDO jumped the gun when it announced in an internal memo Nov. 8 that Mr. Vogel would head the new agency.

Said a True North spokeswoman, "We'd like to achieve a quick and equitable transition of the Chrysler business. However, there's no transition plan in place that takes into consideration our employees' contractual agreements with, and responsibilities to, FCB. We are currently talking with Chrysler and Omnicom to reach a resolution of this matter that also addresses our interests."

Another unknown facing PentaMark is the impact the arrival of a new leader at Daimler-Chrysler's Chrysler Group will have. Dieter Zetsche, who was on the automaker's management board overseeing commercial trucks, arrives today to succeed Jim Holden, who was suddenly forced out as president of Daimler-Chrysler last week after just a year in the position.

Mr. Vogel, a 28-year ad industry veteran and former colonel and first lieutenant of the U.S. Marine Corps, declined comment for this story.

"The fact that Mike is going to head it all says it all-what Mike stands for and how good he is," said Eileen Wunderlich, who left FCB a year ago as senior partner-public relations after working with Mr. Vogel for nearly 11 years.

"He's a very good leader and people want to work for him," she said. "He genuinely cares about people." Toward that end, Mr. Vogel initiated a policy in the 1990s to give employees an extra week's vacation if they bought a Jeep, Eagle, Chrysler or Plymouth vehicle.

Arthur "Bud" Liebler, senior VP-global marketing for Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth and Jeep brands at DaimlerChrysler, has known Mr. Vogel since 1987, when the former Chrysler Corp. acquired American Motors Corp. and Mr. Vogel worked on AMC's Jeep and Renault account at William Esty Co. The following year, the agency became Campbell-Mithun-Esty.

"His strengths are he's a very good leader and people like and respect him," said Mr. Liebler. "He's a very strategic thinker and very well organized."

The automaker didn't force BBDO to hire Mr. Vogel. "We didn't say his hiring was contingent on them getting the business," Mr. Liebler said. "We said we wanted the best people and Mike was certainly included in that."

Having Mr. Vogel run PentaMark will help lure other key FCB people and sets a tone for the new agency's corporate culture, said Mr. Liebler. "FCB's culture is a good culture and some of those things we wanted to stay."

Contributing: Kate MacArthur

Copyright November 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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