Mr. Thomas, 46, who was executive vice president, succeeds Jim Mack, who continues as group chairman but steps out of the day-to-day management role he assumed in January.
Mr. Mack, 50, will focus on organic growth for Frankel and building the agency's three other units: guerilla marketing shop Creative Aim; sweepstakes unit Asterisk; and the Marketing Events unit.
"We're breaking our businesses into four groups and will have four general managers reporting into me," Mr. Mack told AdAge.com.
Major account losses
Mr. Thomas is charged
"New business is dry," Mr. Thomas conceded. "The number of pitches out there is small and we've gotten our business proactively, so revenue is smaller."
He said the agency has brought in 11 new clients, including ConAgra prepared foods and snacks division, Scott's Co., Clorox Co., H&R Block software products, Luminarc and Ralston-Purina South America, and projects for Kohl's, Allstate and CVS Drug.
Mr. Mack disagrees the agency appears to be jockeying for a leadership post in the marketing services discipline following parent Publicis' acquisition of Bcom3 Group.
"This is totally separate from that," he said. "What we're doing is right for Frankel and the whole Publicis system. We've had some success working with Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis and we're looking forward forward to working with Leo Burnett."
Publicis, now the No. 4 advertising holding company, said it currently derives 21% of its revenue from non-traditional marketing.
Mr. Thomas joined Frankel in 1993 as VP-business development. Two years later he was named senior VP in charge of building the agency's non-promotional services. In 1999, he became executive vice president in charge of repositioning direct marketing, database marketing and digital marketing capabilities. He earlier held various marketing and management posts at Donnelley Marketing and Johnson & Johnson.
Last week, a similar executive shift took place at Publicis sibling Fallon, setting the stage there for possible successors to Founder and Chairman Pat Fallon.