Called "one of the most influential people in advertising over the past century" by Advertising Age, Mr. Rosenshine, 67, climbed the ranks at BBDO after joining as a copywriter in 1965. Twenty-one years later, he spearheaded what's become known as the "Big Bang," the creation of Omnicom Group, a $5 billion holding company powerhouse merger of BBDO, DDB and Needham Harper Worldwide.
Mr. Rosenshine will become chairman-emeritus of BBDO, which current president-CEO Andrew Robertson jokingly told employees in an internal memo issued today "is Latin for 'did so much for BBDO, we can't imagine him not being connected to the company.'" A BBDO spokesman said the chairman role will not be filled.
The move is not unexpected. Two years ago, when Mr. Robertson was named CEO, Mr. Rosenshine promised to remain with the agency for another two years. "Typically for Allen, he has given more," Mr. Robertson said in the statement. "He built a network of extraordinary talent that does extraordinary work. He believed that you could be good and big, creative and global. And he proved to the world he was right."
A decade after he joined the New York agency, Mr. Rosenshine was named creative director and five years after that, in 1980, he became president of the agency. Then, in 1985, he was promoted to CEO of BBDO. One year later, he helped orchestrate the merger.
The right choice
Known for his forthrightness as well as his sense of humor, Mr. Rosenshine led Omnicom for three years before returning to BBDO. In a move that shocked the industry at the time, he said "having me running a public finance-oriented holding company is not the best choice for me or the company." He returned to BBDO as CEO in 1989 and remained in that job until Mr. Robertson arrived in mid-2004. BBDO's billings in that time increased from $3 billion to more than $24 billion.
"The success of BBDO under Allen's leadership speaks for itself," John Wren, president-CEO of Omnicom, said in a statement. "He's been the heart and soul of the agency. It's BBDO blood that runs through his veins. So Andrew and I are very glad that, even in retirement, he will stay in contact with the network."
In his recently published first book, "Funny Business: Moguls, Mobsters, Megastars and the Mad, Mad World of the Ad Game," Mr. Rosenshine offers the following advice to those striving to make a career in advertising: "Don't lose your sense of humor. You'll need it."