Young & Rubicam named David Patton today to the new role of global president, with responsibility for all operations outside the U.S.
Mr. Patton joins from sibling WPP agency Grey Group, where he has been president and CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the last six years.
David Sable, Y&R's global CEO, will continue to oversee the U.S. He said, "[Global president is] the same position I held at Wunderman for many years, and I know how useful it is. Our strategy is dependent on our ability to be strong in local markets and David gives us extra bench strength. I'll have somebody to help me get down into the details that can swamp you, so I can be involved in the clients and issues that I need to be involved in."
Mr. Patton will be suceeded in his European role by Alain Groenendaal, president and CEO of Grey Latin America since 2012.
Asked whether Mr. Patton is being lined up as a potential successor, Mr. Sable said, "As in most good businesses, the notion of succession is very important. Every one of us at my level has a succession plan. I'm blessed with a number of names. Is David one of them? I would hope so. He's a powerful guy who's going to make a tremendous contribution."
Before he joined Grey Group as London CEO in 2007, Mr. Patton was Sony Europe's senior vice president-marketing communications. He was the marketer behind Fallon London's famous "Balls" spot for the Bravia TV, as well as "Double Life" and "Mountain" for PlayStation by TBWA London.
Mr. Patton kicked off his tenure at Grey with a massive turnaround of the London agency, helped by bringing in Nils Leonard as chief creative officer. Mr. Leonard recently announced his departure, along with Grey London CEO Lucy Jameson, to set up their own agency.
Grey Group's chairman and CEO, Jim Heekin, said in a statement, "This marks the second time this year that an outstanding Grey alum has been chosen for a top leadership post at one of WPP's largest advertising agencies. Tamara Ingram took the helm of JWT last March. Both appointments are a remarkable compliment to Grey's ascendancy and success."
Commenting on the inter-WPP move, Mr. Sable said, "The good thing is that we can move people within the system, which benefits the whole system. It's good management on WPP's side."
Mr. Patton, who currently leads 45 agencies across the EMEA region, will continue to be based in London in his new role. His successor, Mr. Groenendall, will move to London from New York. Mr. Groenendaal joined Grey in 2008 to head Wing, Grey's U.S. Hispanic agency, and added the Latin America role four years later. Prior to joining Grey, he was general manager of U.S. Hispanic agency The Community in Miami for three years, and before that he spent almost 20 years at Leo Burnett in Latin America, starting as an account exec at Leo Burnett in Chile in 1984.