World: Stuart Elliott in America

Will Gosper prosper? That, in a nutshell, is what Madison Avenue is wondering as Brett Gosper begins his new gig this week. As you read recently elsewhere in these pages, Gosper is now overseeing the New York operations of TBWA\Worldwide, including the New York office of TBWA\Chiat\Day, after less than a year as the general manager of the flagship New York office of McCann Erickson Worldwide.

McCann had recruited Gosper, the photogenic, rugby-playing Aussie, from London, where he'd once been a rising star at Euro RSCG Worldwide. And though he'd worked in Australia, France and Germany as well as England, before McCann he'd never been posted to the US.

While so far Gosper, by all indications, has ably met what he once called the "exhilarating challenge" of working in the largest city in the world's largest advertising market, no-one had an inkling he would - or could - be poached so quickly for another perch.

Some "aha's" of comprehension were heard once the dots were connected between Gosper and Jean-Marie Dru, the chief executive of TBWA\Worldwide, to whom Gosper reports. The hiring reunites them - Gosper worked for Dru in the BDDP Paris and Frankfurt offices from 1989 to 1994. That's when Gosper was wooed away by Euro RSCG to open, with Mark Wnek, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper in London.

Indeed, it's said the move so shocked Gosper's colleagues at McCann, not to mention his new co-workers, because his talks with Dru had been, as Danny DeVito said in LA Confidential, "off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush". So hush-hush, word has it, that even Tom Carroll, the president for the Americas at TBWA\Worldwide, was left out of the loop.

Carroll had the president of the TBWA\Chiat\Day New York office, Shona Seifert, reporting to him - she now reports to Gosper, who reports to Dru.

A day after Gosper's hiring became public, TBWA\Worldwide announced a global role for Carroll as the vice-chairman, a new post, continuing to report to Dru. Carroll adds duties for global business development, plus major clients such as Absolut and Adidas, and retains oversight of the San Francisco and Canadian operations of TBWA\Chiat\Day, while relinquishing responsibility for the New York and Los Angeles offices.

No less august a personage than John Wren, the CEO of the TBWA\Worldwide parent, the Omnicom Group, offered his support for Carroll in the reorganisation.

"Tommy's position is even more enhanced," Wren said to Adweek, "despite what people think of his new title." That's a reference to the belief, widespread at American agencies, that a promotion to vice-chairman is often a polite way of pointing someone toward the door.

And as Adweek pointed out, though TBWA\Worldwide's New York operations are far smaller than McCann's, and the revolving door there spins far faster (Gosper is by Adweek's count the fourth executive overseeing the TBWA\Chiat\Day New York office in seven years), at TBWA\Worldwide, Gosper gets that direct report to Dru. At McCann, by contrast, he reported to the regional director for North America, Eric Keshin, who in turn reported to the CEO, John Dooner.

"It's the right choice for the next five years," Gosper told Adweek.

Trust a devoted rugby player to have so defined a goal.


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