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
FCB’s move to shake up its European operations comes 18 months after its
US parent, True North Communications, terminated its strategic alliance
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
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