Publicis Promotes Modem Media and its CEO

  |  May 4, 2007   |  Comments

Publicis Modem has been designated the global digital arm of Publicis Worldwide.

What was once Modem Media is now Publicis Modem. On top of the name change, the agency has been aligned with Publicis Dialog and designated the global digital arm of Publicis Worldwide.

The metamorphosis of Modem Media, one of two digital agencies under the Publicis Groupe-acquired Digitas Inc. umbrella (the other being Digitas), includes some dramatic executive shuffling.

Former Modem Media president Martin Reidy has been named CEO not only of the new Publicis Modem but also of Publicis Dialog, a long-established company operating in more than 40 countries and employing more than 2,000 people. He's taking the job held by current Publicis Dialog CEO Colin Hearn, who is leaving the company.

While Reidy told ClickZ that Publicis Modem and Publicis Dialog will not be merged ("A better word is aligned," he said), the new arrangement will form a unified "global powerhouse of digital expertise," according to the formal announcement.

"It's more than a renaming," stressed Publicis Modem spokesperson Janice Snook. "They are really elevating their digital network by creating Publicis Modem and aligning it with Publicis Dialog... which is a huge play for digital."

Publicis Modem will be headquartered in Reidy's home of San Francisco, where Modem Media was based. Reidy will report to Publicis COO Richard Pinder and will sit on the Publicis network's Worldwide Executive Committee.

"It is a big move," acknowledged Reidy. "It's a vote of confidence from [Publicis CEO] Maurice Levy. It's not about me as much as it is about Maurice publicly stating he wants to be number one in digital."

But what now becomes of Digitas, the other digital agency acquired in that deal? Reidy and Snook said Digitas will remain an important part of the group. Although Levy chose Modem Media for the new arrangement, Reidy insisted Digitas will continue to grow.

"Within Digitas Inc., there were two brands, Digitas and Modem," said Reidy. "Maurice... saw the Digitas brand as building the network through and he wanted Modem to be the digital juice aligned with one of the agencies where we could come in and help transform an existing agency into more of a digital platform."

Reidy asserted Digitas is "a very important part of Maurice's strategy" that "has a very large presence in the U.S. and will grow internationally... Absolutely, Digitas is here to stay. It is a key, key, key part of the acquisition."

In fact, some of Publicis Modem's London clients will be moved to Digitas, noted Publicis in announcing the restructuring. However, Publicis Modem retains the high profile global HP relationship in London.

Asked to describe the similarities and differences between Modem Media and Publicis Dialog, Reidy said Modem was "much more of a pure digital company," while Publicis Dialog combined digital with promotions and customer resource management capabilities.

The announcement comes on the heels of Publicis Groupe's creation of Prodigious Worldwide under Digitas, a global digital production hub.


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