Saatchis lines up new chief executive

In a surprise move, Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising Worldwide has taken on a new chief executive from outside the group to replace the veteran Ed Wax, who retires this summer.

In a surprise move, Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising Worldwide has

taken on a new chief executive from outside the group to replace the

veteran Ed Wax, who retires this summer.



Kevin Roberts, who has been a Saatchis client for more than 20 years,

has been hired as a ’hands-on’ leader to weld Saatchis’ global network

into a more unified team in the run-up to its demerger from Cordiant

later this year.



His appointment has surprised some observers who had expected Bob

Seelert - destined to be chief executive of the entire Saatchi and

Saatchi group once it demerges - to carry on alone. It is understood

that Seelert, who was drafted in from General Foods’ worldwide coffee

and international foods division two years ago, will focus on strategy

and investor relations.



Seelert’s responsibilities will cover all group companies, including the

multimedia specialist, Siegel and Gale, and the London-based Facilities

Group, in addition to the Saatchi advertising network.



Roberts will work solely for the network, reporting directly into

Seelert.



He will concentrate on client relations and the day-to-day management.

His previous experience at Procter and Gamble, where he was a regional

manager, will be of particular benefit, since the departing Wax is close

to this key Saatchis client.



Derek Bowden, the Saatchis chief executive for Europe, Middle East and

Africa, called Roberts a ’hands-on team captain’, adding: ’We have good

people in all the right places. I think Roberts is a self-confessed

coach-leader-cum-mentor. He wants to pull this all together.’



The 47-year-old Roberts was born in Lancaster, England. After cutting

his teeth developing and marketing the Mary Quant brand, he joined

Gillette and then, in 1975, moved to P&G, where he took responsibility

for the Middle East and Africa. Seven years later he became president

and chief executive of Pepsi-Cola Middle East and, most recently, worked

as the head of the New Zealand brewery, Lion Nathan.



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