WPP Names Interim CEO for 'DaVinci' Dell Team

Y&R CMO Mitch Caplan to Lead Transition; Bob Berenson Also Onboard

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Y&R Chief Marketing Officer Mitch Caplan has been tapped to serve as acting CEO for the WPP Group transition team that will guide the creation of a new marketing agency to handle the $4.5 billion marketing account for Dell.

Also sitting at the head of that team will be retired 40-year WPP veteran Bob Berenson, who has been named chairman of a group that will create a new agency of more than 1,000 staffers to handle a wide range of marketing services for the computer maker by March 1.

Said Dell VP-Global Marketing Casey Jones in an e-mail: "WPP has assigned and is bringing online more staff to help scope projects, assess the coming work load and catch things that might otherwise drop through the cracks as we begin the process of migrating from our current roster to 'DaVinci.' This is the WPP transition team. We are inviting them into as many meetings as possible and hope many of them will be interested in permanent roles moving forward."

DaVinci is the internal project name that was used for Dell's seven-month holding company pitch, in which WPP prevailed over Interpublic Group of Cos. to land the three-year, $4.5 billion marketing account. DaVinci is being used as a transition name by WPP and Dell until the formal launch of Dell's new agency next year, when it will likely be renamed.

Mr. Caplan joined Y&R in May as CMO in charge of new-business development for North America. He previously served as managing director of business development and integration at Publicis Groupe agency Kaplan Thaler Group. At Y&R, he filled the vacancy left by the December 2006 exit of Sally Kennedy, who held the position for 20 months.

Temporary shift?
Whether Mr. Caplan's appointment is only a temporary shift of duties that will see him return to Y&R once Dell's new agency is up and running remains to be seen. Neither Mr. Caplan nor a Y&R spokeswoman could be reached for comment by press time.

Said Mr. Jones, "The DaVinci team from WPP will be made up of people they are fully committing to the effort as well as people they are hiring to the agency. Once they launch the new agency, some currently helping us will transition off and back to other great roles within WPP."

Meanwhile, Mr. Berenson, who retired in early 2005, formerly served as vice chairman of Grey Global Group, and was asked jointly by WPP and Dell to step back into the ring as chairman of WPP's transition team.

While at Grey, Mr. Berenson ran mega-accounts including Ford, Sprint and General Foods (now Kraft). He additionally led a client consulting practice for many years, which assisted IBM and Computer Sciences Corporation, among others.
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