Publicis, Omnicom Align Chess Pieces in Key Divisions

Merger Partners Make Shifts in Digital, Media and Creative

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Federal Trade Commission regulators last week cleared the Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group merger in the U.S., laying to rest antitrust concerns over a combined group that would command more than 40% of U.S. media spending. But while the merger partners wait for approval in markets like Europe and China, they are hardly idle in their quest to meet a deal target of early next year. Beyond an earlier reported integration committee meeting that brought together top global executives from both holding companies in Miami, the frenemies seem to be aligning chess pieces in the areas of media, creative and digital.

John Swift, president of integrated communications for Omnicom Media Group, the network that houses media shops OMD and PHD, was quietly elevated to the new role of CEO-president of North America investment. Chris Geraci oversees national broadcast for the agency network. At Starcom MediaVest Group and Zenith Optimedia -- Publicis' two media agency networks -- investment is handled separately and is specific to individual agencies within each network. It's unclear whether the joint media operations will form a GroupM-like structure housing the entire portfolio of agencies, with a single investment lead and a central buying hub.

OMD U.S. CEO Alan Cohen left with a handful of other OMD executives to start his own shop, dubbed Giant Spoon. Omnicom took a stake in the new venture. Monica Karo, CEO of smaller sibling PHD in the U.S., succeeded Mr. Cohen at OMD.

Dave Ehlers was shifted from president to CEO of Optimedia.

SMG launched a consulting-like group called Zero Dot, helmed by its President-Experience Design Jonathan Hoffman.

Troy Ruhanen has been tapped by Omnicom CEO John Wren to take on a role at the holding-company level. The Australia native, who joined BBDO New York office in 2004 from Leo Burnett and quickly ascended to oversee the agency's biggest region, exited as chairman-CEO of the Americas and is now exec VP of Omnicom Group, responsible for driving cross-agency collaboration and innovation.

Arthur Sadoun, who was running Publicis Worldwide's European operation, moved to CEO of Publicis Worldwide.

Publicis has remained acquisitive with small, digital-agency deals around the world. Since September, the group purchased Beehive Communications, Poke London and U.S.-based digital shop Engauge, the last a partnership between Halyard Capital and Stan Rapp, co-founder and former chairman of direct-marketing company Rapp Worldwide, an Omnicom company.

Omnicom's standalone digital shops remain subsidiaries of larger creative-agency parents, like BBDO subsidiary Organic, for example. And the holding company has stayed true to its "build, not buy" mantra. It's quietly expanding its media group's data-and-digital arm, Annalect, throughout the holding company. Annalect hired Erin Matts to serve as CMO a few months ago.

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