B-Com3 moved closer to its forthcoming IPO this week with the crucial announcement of new management line-ups at Leo Burnett, Starcom MediaVest and D'Arcy.
Roger Haupt, the chief executive of B-Com3, has put a younger and more dynamic team in charge of the three networks with an eye to impressing Wall Street early next year.
Haupt surprised the advertising industry by appointing Bob Brennan, the 41-year-old chief operating officer of Starcom MediaVest, as the president of Leo Burnett Worldwide.
Not only is it a radical move to put a media man in charge of the agency, but it was also an unexpected appointment because Starcom's profitability makes it an important 'cash cow' in the run-up to the sell-off. Haupt was not expected to rock the Starcom boat at such a crucial time in B-Com3's short history.
Haupt said: 'Bob has been chosen because he represents our future. He is smart and I will go with the best athlete every time. I've been fortunate that people haven't stereotyped me. Bob just happens to be in media - he will bring a breadth to the agency and make sure that advertising and media keep moving forward.'
He also insisted that the success of Starcom has been a team effort and that Brennan leaves behind him a strong management structure. However, Haupt is looking for a replacement for Brennan.
Brennan will work with Linda Wolf, who replaces Haupt as the chief executive of Leo Burnett Worldwide. Wolf, who was previously the chief executive of Leo Burnett USA, also assumes the title of chairman, now held by Rick Fizdale, who retains his role as vice-chairman of B-Com3.
Haupt said: 'This business can be cyclical and when Linda took over, we were on a down cycle. The mid-90s were not a stellar period for Leo Burnett but she has brought us back to full strength by making transition from within.'
Wolf joined Leo Burnett in 1978 as an assistant account executive. She was elected to the company's board of directors in 1996.
Steve Gatfield, the group president of Leo Burnett's Asia-Pacific region, becomes chief operating officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide, reporting to Wolf.
Haupt said: 'Steve has led 25 agencies in 17 markets through one of the most turbulent economic swings in Asian history. He did more than help Leo Burnett survive, he grew our business.'
Gatfield, a former chief executive of Leo Burnett London, will be replaced in Asia by Richard Pinder, who joined Leo Burnett in June as the regional director for South-East Asia and Greater China. Pinder was previously the managing director of Ogilvy & Mather in London.
D'Arcy Transatlantic's president, John Farrell, replaces Arthur Selkowitz as the chief executive of D'Arcy Worldwide. He will work with Susan Gianinno, also a president of D'Arcy Transatlantic, who becomes the chairman and chief branding officer of D'Arcy Worldwide.
The duo's first task will be to rebuild a creative reputation for D'Arcy by appointing a 'world-wide creative leader', a role that they expect to fill with an external candidate.
Gianinno said: 'It's about re-engaging creativity in the fullest sense. We will encourage original thinking.'
Under Farrell's leadership, the US agency has won new business from clients including Sprint, Ernst & Young, Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squib. However, the European network, also part of his brief, has not had the same degree of success and D'Arcy's creative reputation needs invigorating.
Farrell said: 'I have been brought into the role to accelerate momentum and to bring in fresh thinking and new ideas.'
The appointments of Farrell, who has a direct marketing background, and Brennan, with his media background, are touted by Haupt as an indication of the way B-Com3 is 'determined to alter the way traditional agencies operate'. Haupt explained: 'The new world of marketing demands holistic planning on behalf of our clients.'
The B-Com3 Group was officially launched on 14 March, when Leo Burnett and D'Arcy teamed up with the help of cash released when Dentsu took a 20 per cent stake in the new company.
Haupt will now concentrate on his role as the chief executive of B-Com3.
He said: 'I will have time to drive the company forward. There is still hard work to be done to harmonise the MacManus Group and the Leo Group into one cohesive company.
'I have spent a lot of time running around the globe, getting in front of people at the middle and lower levels. It is a constant challenge: the bigger you get, the tougher it gets.'
Haupt added that he has targeted 2001 for the group's IPO. 'I want to do it quickly and do it right, but a public company is a different environment and we need time to get into the groove. An IPO should be an extension of a successful business strategy,' he said.
This latest set of appointments within B-Com3 will not affect the London operations of Leo Burnett, D'Arcy or Starcom Motive directly. However, Mark Cranmer's promotion from managing director of Starcom Motive to Starcom MediaVest's chief executive of Europe, the Middle East and Africa earlier this year can now be identified as part of Haupt's overall plans for the group and his promotion of Brennan.