Douglas quits COI to run FCB Europe

By AMANDA HALL, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 28 August 1998 12:00AM

Tony Douglas, the chief executive of the Central Office of Information, is to quit the Government’s top communications job in order to return to agency life as chairman of FCB Europe.

Tony Douglas, the chief executive of the Central Office of

Information, is to quit the Government’s top communications job in order

to return to agency life as chairman of FCB Europe.



Douglas, who joined the COI two years ago and is best known in the

advertising business as the man who partnered Graham Hinton for many

years at the helm of DMB&B, takes up his new role in October.



His brief is twofold: to boost FCB’s European network through

acquisition and organic growth; and to revive FCB’s flagging UK

business, it was recently ranked 26th in Campaign’s agency billings

league for the 12 months to June 1998.



Douglas said: ’I took on the COI job for a three-year fixed term and I

thought I would do my three years. But this was too good a job for me to

turn down. It’s an opportunity to build a business again in the

marketplace.’



FCB’s move to shake up its European operations comes 18 months after its

US parent, True North Communications, terminated its strategic alliance

with Publicis.



The venture, first established in 1989, was intended to create a

powerful global network. However, the two sides failed to agree on how

best to build their global operation and the deal finally fell apart

last year after months of acrimony. Today, FCB’s European network

comprises 35 agencies with billings of dollars 615 million.



It is ranked 18th in Europe. By contrast, FCB occupies the number one

slot in the US.



Harry Reid, FCB’s international president, said target markets for

acquisitions were the UK, Italy, Holland and Belgium. He also plans to

develop the agency’s direct marketing operations.



’Europe is the global priority for FCB,’ he added. ’We have to improve

our position across Europe and in the UK and we are putting the

firepower in to make that happen.’



Douglas was the first chief executive of the COI to be appointed from

the private sector. In his two years there, he restructured the

organisation’s management and cut staffing levels by a third -

equivalent to 120 jobs.



As joint chairman of DMB&B alongside Hinton, he was a key player in the

agency’s turnaround in the late 80s from a position of virtual collapse

in 1984.



However, he was ousted from the business in 1995 when its international

parent appointed John Farrell, the head of its sales promotion

subsidiary, IMP, to run the business over the heads of Douglas and

Hinton.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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