Grey's Fernando Beretta

And other appointment news in Greater China

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HONG KONG--Grey Global Group has recruited one of its top Latin American executives, Fernando Beretta, 39, to lead the agency’s Procter & Gamble team in China, where Grey handles brands like Pantene, Cover Girl, Clairol and Pringles.

He will be regional senior VP, P&G account management, Greater China, a new position based in Hong Kong. Mr. Beretta, a friendly, enthusiastic Argentine, has spent the past ten years working on P&G brands across Latin America. Despite this international experience, his transfer to Asia marks the first time he has lived outside Buenos Aires, but it’s a move he was eager to make.

“This is the biggest playground in the world, China is the most amazing, frantic, evolving society, country and economy. I didn’t just want to witness these social and cultural changes from the outside, I wanted to be part of the changes and be one of the people who is helping write history,” Mr. Beretta said.

His first task is restructuring Grey’s P&G account team, which he divided into two key business units, one for beauty products and one for fabric, home care and snack brands. The team will include four equal executives operating in a horizontal command structure. It will include two business managers, one for each unit, a strategic planner and a “holistic” manager, “who will ensure every idea is presented as media neutral. The system allows different disciplines and marketing approaches to work together. It’s a personal working style I enjoy and it usually allows for a lot of innovation,” said Mr. Beretta.

“I will be like the fifth Knight of the Apocolypse,” he laughed, “challenging and provoking them to make sure we are innovative and see business grow. All of P&G’s businesses are growing really fast, we need to manage the change. It’s not a reaction to growth, it’s a mutual investment.”

Since 2002, Mr. Beretta served as Grey’s VP, developing strategy & communications for P&G brands including Pantene, Downy, Clairol, Dawn, Pringles, Bold, Mr. Clean and Zest in Latin America, encompassing Grey offices in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Bogota, Sao Paulo and its New York-based U.S. Hispanic agency Wing Latino. Before that, he spent six years as regional director of Grey’s P&G business in Argentina.

“He did a terrific job running a very difficult region,” said Mike Amour, Grey’s Singapore-based chairman-CEO, Asia/Pacific. “He not only built on the brands we handle for Procter, he did a good job of creating through-the-line business for P&G, which is very focused on shopper marketing and holistic communication.”

As a bonus, Mr. Beretta worked in Latin America with some of P&G’s senior management in Asia, including Daniela Riccardi, now president, Greater China in Guangzhou.

“There is an existing base of credibility that will help the agency. It’s great to have that level of relationships at the top of the organization. He was also looking for a bigger challenge, and he’s certainly got it here,” Mr. Amour added wryly.

Beyond the challenges all agencies experience operating in China, Grey has faced unusual turbulence since Mr. Amour arrived in Asia 18 months ago. Shortly afterward, Viveca Chan, the network’s chairman-CEO for Greater China, resigned to establish an independent agency in China along with several key members of the region’s senior management. Her successor, Dennis Wong, only lasted about six months. Last month, Grey unexpectedly parted company with its joint venture partner in China, Citic Group's advertising subsidiary, Citic Guoan. (See “Citic deal doubles DDB overnight,” AdAgeChina, June 14, 2006)

“It has been a very challenging time, but a certain amount of change we created ourselves to fundamentally overhaul a business that was not performing at the levels Grey or WPP would expect,” said Mr. Amour. “Now we are starting with a clean slate.”

Procter & Gamble’s last quarterly earnings fell below double digit growth in China for the first time in recent memory. The Cincinnati-based company acknowledged the results were disappointing and said it expects business growth to continue to slow in the years ahead.

Mr. Beretta, however, remains buoyant about the growth potential for China’s largest advertiser and Grey's biggest client in China. “There are always ups and downs in every business. Grey’s income is based on P&G sales performance, so we analyze every sales report, and our analysis of P&G in China has triggered us to invest even more. We are more than doubling the number of people and the level of seniority of our team here.

“Now is a time to jump in the waves and grow with them,” he said confidently. “If I didn’t really believe that, I wouldn’t have moved my wife and two young children to Hong Kong to take this position.”

The experience so far has been enjoyable. Since he relocated to Greater China earlier this month, he has been impressed by the strong, diverse personalities of cities like Beijing and Hangzhou.

But even more surprising, he joked, were the questions he was asked by colleagues on the other side of the world, "such as, 'Will you buy a bicycle, since that’s how Chinese get around?' I haven’t seen a lot of bicycles, but there are a surprising number of really expensive cars, even Ferraris. So I reply, 'If you come to China, don’t bring a bike, just bring a lot of money.'”

Other appointment news in Greater China

[hong kong] Disney-ABC Television Group has appointed Inez Ho as director, communications for Asia/Pacific, supporting Disney Channels and Disney-branded television businesses in 15 markets including India, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. She will also oversee communications for the collaborative activities between the Asia/Pacific TV group and other divisions within The Walt Disney Company. Previously, she was director of public relations at Turner Broadcasting System in Asia/Pacific. She will remain based in Hong Kong.

[hong kong] NetRatings, Nielsen's Internet audience measurement division, has appointed Joseph Kam as business development director in Hong Kong. Previously, he was business manager at Yahoo Holdings, also in Hong Kong.

[hong kong] The Hoffman PR agency has appointed Susan Tomsett as managing director, Asia/Pacific, in Hong Kong. She succeeds Whitney Small, who resigned recently from the agency to join Ford Motor Co. Previously, Ms. Tomsett was Beijing-based chief operating officer, Greater China for Burson-Marsteller, based in Beijing.

[shanghai] Grey Global Group has promoted Naveen Rao, a 13-year Grey veteran, to national planning director for China and Hong Kong, from planning director of Grey’s Shanghai office.

[shanghai] TBWA Worldwide’s Tequila direct marketing arm has named Pornthip Suchanthabut in Shanghai as group account director for its Chivas Regal account in China. Previously, she was an account director at Grey Global Group’s G2 arm in Shanghai, which also handles some below-the-line business for Pernod Richard brands in China. Tequila has also appointed Michelle Wong in Shanghai as group account director, where she will work on the agency’s portfolio of international brands such as Chivas and Adidas. Previously, she was group account director at Young & Rubicam in Singapore, where she worked on the agency’s regional Citibank business.

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