Mead, a founding partner of the UK's largest agency, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, and Omnicom's deputy chairman, is being drafted in to achieve more pan-European co-ordination for the group, which owns the BBDO, DDB and TBWA networks.
Mead's appointment as the European president ends his roving remit within Omnicom, which he is known to have found frustrating. It also gives him a more clearly defined role and an extended contract - his old contract expires this autumn.
Industry sources say Omnicom's aim is to replicate the success of Diversified Agency Services, Omnicom's marketing services group, in other areas of its operation.
The initiative is also seen as a reaction to Omnicom companies, such as the DM specialist WWAV Rapp Collins, moving further into Europe, increasing the need for a clear reporting structure.
At the same time, Omnicom chiefs are said to recognise the necessity of adopting a different structure for Europe where agencies, unlike those in the US, have a broader range of offerings.
Mead's appointment will also be regarded as a sign of a thaw in his relations with John Wren, Omnicom's chairman. Their partnership became strained over the part Mead played in securing Mercedes-Benz's £10 million account for Campbell Doyle Dye rather than an Omnicom shop.
Neither Mead nor Omnicom were available for comment as Campaign went to press.