Senior in Saatchi/Fallon tie-up

Publicis Groupe creates mini group with Senior at the UK helm and names new head of Saatchi Europe.

Publicis Groupe is aligning Saatchi & Saatchi and Fallon under a new mini group structure, and is poised to appoint the Fallon founding partner Robert Senior as the chief executive with responsibility for both agencies.

In the meantime, Simon Francis, the OMD EMEA managing director, will be replacing Jim O'Mahoney as the Saatchi EMEA chief executive. O'Mahoney will be reposted to another region within Saatchi Worldwide.

Senior is understood to have held high-level meetings this week with the Fallon president, Pat Fallon, and the Saatchi Worldwide chief executive, Kevin Roberts, with a view to launching the proposed mini group in the US and UK on 1 August.

A senior Publicis source revealed that the group would be formed to "reboot Fallon in the US, and add some creative flair to Saatchis in the UK".

Saatchis has struggled to fill the chief executive role in its London office since the departure of Lee Daley in February.

In recent weeks, Saatchis has also parted company with several senior figures, including Andreas Neumann and Amos, the founders of the branded content division, Gum. Then last week the agency ceded control of the UK Toyota acc-ount to CHI & Partners.

Meanwhile, in the US, Fallon's Minneapolis head office has suffered a number of account losses over the past two years, including BMW, Lee Jeans and United Airlines. Most recently, the agency lost the $600 million CitiBank account to Publicis in April.

During that time, the agency has had three executive creative directors, including the former TBWA\London creative Paul Silburn, who spent less than a year at the agency.

Fallon and Saatchis will now work closely together in London under Senior's leadership and the new mini-group structure will offer clients best in class across both agencies. However, the two brands will continue to operate seperately; conflicts include Saatchis' T-Mobile and Standard Life accounts and Fallon's Orange and MoreTh>n businesses.

Senior founded the London office of Fallon in 1998 along with his co-partners Laurence Green, Michael Wall, Richard Flintham and Andy McLeod. The venture was backed by Publicis Groupe with a 60/40 per cent split between the company and the partners.

The five founders finished their earn-outs last June. Since then, McLeod has departed to become a commercials director at Rattling Stick, and Wall has quit without another job to go to.

Fallon has a record of award-winning creative work, including two consecutive Cannes gold Lions for its Sony Bravia ads, and is Campaign's reigning Agency of the Year.

A spokesman for Saatchis declined to comment. No-one at Fallon had returned calls as Campaign went to press.

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