Mr. Roberts founded Gotham in 1994 as a spinoff from Lintas with partner and co-CEO Laurence Dunst. The agency started with one account, Maybelline, and the client roster eventually expanded to include Fidelity, Priceline, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, among others.
Carlson & Partners is also a J&J agency, working on the personal care product maker's Neutrogena brand. Mr. Roberts said his plan is to "make sure the current business is solid, then expand out. Fundamentally, it is not unlike when we started Gotham."
Cosmetics company veterans
Carlson & Partners' chairman, Richard Tarlow, is also a veteran of cosmetics company clients, such as Revlon. Carlson & Partners, which was founded 15 years ago by Mr. Tarlow's late wife, Sandra Carlson Tarlow, currently has 60 employees, according to Mr. Tarlow.
"I have the highest regard for Dick Tarlow," Mr. Roberts said. "When I was doing Cover Girl and Maybelline he was doing Revlon and Neutrogena."
"We both have a lot of experience talking to women," Mr. Tarlow quipped.
Search for successor
Discussions between Omnicom and Mr. Roberts began five months ago, Mr. Roberts said in an interview today. During that time, Interpublic made known its plans to recruit a successor to Mr. Roberts, which he said was a project he had initiated with the holding company's management.
"I said that we needed someone who could one day run the agency," Mr. Roberts said. "Planning a successor is something that every agency should do."
At Gotham, Mr. Dunst remains with the agency as co-chairman and CEO, while longtime Interpublic executive Gunnar Wilmot moves to Gotham as chairman. Most recently Mr. Wilmot was chief operating officer at Interpublic's Partnership division. Early on in his career he worked for Mr. Roberts at SSC&B, where other Gotham veterans, Sheri Baron and Lynn Giordano, also worked. As part of the executive changes, Ms. Baron is being promoted from president to chief operating officer. Ms. Giordano continues as chief creative officer.