TBWA restructures to embrace global markets

Keith Smith: president international, global markets, TBWA.
Keith Smith: president international, global markets, TBWA.

Updated: TBWA\Worldwide President and CEO Troy Ruhanen announced a slate of executive promotions to support the move

TBWA on Friday announced a new regional structure aimed at spanning global markets and a slate of executive appointments to support it.

President and CEO Troy Ruhanen announced Keith Smith is now president — international, global markets. Perry Valkenburg becomes president, international – global operations.

James Vincent and Emmanuel Andre also gained the title of president, international. Vincent will focus on developing "developing new and innovative client models for global client business and building out new partnership models within the network." Andre "will be in charge of TBWA’s network culture, training and development programs," the company said.

The presidents will support global chief executive Troy Ruhanen across 15 core global markets in a new global client market structure that replaces the TBWA's regional structure.

"Aligning our business with those of our global clients and moving away from a traditional regional structure will allow our leadership and markets to be more entrepreneurial because they are not operating in a traditional structure," Ruhanen said. "Instead of being generalists, we’ll be specialists with a critical area of focus."

Smith told Campaign Asia-Pacific: "With Troy, we’re going to travel to try and build our global presence together.

"Our job is to really spread the TBWA culture, spread the TBWA business and make sure our offices are linking properly, pitching properly and using disruption properly."

"It’s about making sure our network knits together and works together as an integrated network," he said, adding that he'll also ensure that no "bits fall off the edge."

The changes also include the network's appointment of Nils Andersson as president and chief creative officer for Greater China, news that Campaign Asia-Pacific broke on Thursday.

As part of the changes Luke Eid, global innovation director for TBWA\Worldwide and a former head of Digital Arts Network in Hong Kong, adds the role of president, Digital Arts Network, TBWA's shop for Apple.

TBWA has also appointed Nick Barham, chief strategy officer of TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles, the role of global chief strategy officer to his existing duties.

Philip Brett has been promoted to Asia president and Singapore will become the network's Asia headquarters. In addition, Joanne Lao will move from Hong Kong to Shanghai as she is promoted to Greater China chief executive.

Because Japan, China and Australia are among the agency's 15 key markets, Smith won't be saying farewell to the region entirely. "I’m not lost to Asia," he said. "I will still have an office in Hong Kong and will still be closely involved." 

As president of Asia, Brett, who was previously president of TBWA Group South and Southeast Asia, will take over day-to-day oversight. His remit includes three "focused regions": Asia, Greater China and Oceania.

Under Brett, Paul Bradbury continues as chief executive of Whybin\TBWA in Australia and New Zealand, and Lao's appointment as chief executive of Greater China fills a void left by Ian Thubron, who departed the role of Greater China president earlier this year. 

Lao has done a great job as managing director in Hong Kong, Brett said, and her move to Shanghai is a logical one.

"We want to see China and Hong Kong as a unified region, and we want to move [Lao] into a place of greater influence," Brett said. "And this gives us real momentum by joining up and connecting Shanghai and Hong Kong."

Lao's appointment also speaks to a commitment under Ruhanen to increase the number of women in key leadership roles. "There's a dearth of female leaders in the industry, full-stop," Smith said. "We're no exception. So to have a strong female leader in China is a great step forward for us." He added that identifying and grooming more female leaders will also be part of his new gig.

In Shanghai, Brian Swords remains as managing director, but he plans to relocate to Europe with TBWA later this year, though his role hasn't been determined, Smith said.

Smith started his career in the UK, working at DDB, McCann Erickson and Grey. In 1983, he took a leadership role at Holmes Knight Ritchie/WRG and in 1989 became a partner at TBWA Holmes Knight Ritchie.

From 1993 to 1996, he set up Pan-European offices for TBWA International in Brussels. He then moved to Hong Kong, where he presided over the construction of a regional network that now spans 19 countries and employs more than 2,500 people in 45 offices, according to the agency.

This article first appeared on campaignasia.com.

This story has been updated to reflect additional executive appointments and TBWA's new global market structure.

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