Poaches a New York ECD from R/GA has hired a replacement for outgoing New York Executive Creative Director Tom Ajello, who resigned last week after three years with the firm. New ECD Mat Zucker joins from Interpublic’s R/GA, where he was executive creative director focused on the Johnson & Johnson account.

Zucker’s hire is the first of what Omnicom-owned hopes will be a string of senior appointments that will boost its image in the wake of high profile defections going back about a year. CEO David Eastman, who was appointed to run the TBWA-aligned agency in March 2006, recently told ClickZ he’s focused on standardizing operations and unifying the agency’s disparate functions. These include online direct marketing as represented by long-ago-merged subsidiary itraffic and Web development and online ads as represented by

Eastman acknowledged changes at the agency may look chaotic from the outside, but said the business is getting its ducks in a row in preparation for future expansion.

Other vacant positions include East and West Coast managing partners to replace Eric Valk Peterson and Alan Burgis, respectively. While many digital agencies have numerous vacancies, faces a particularly tough challenge convincing a shrinking pool of talent that it is still cutting edge and aggressive enough to support their career growth.

Prior to his stint at R/GA, Zucker spent five years at OgilvyOne worldwide, working on Ameritrade, American Express, Cisco Systems and Enfamil.

He’ll stay on with R/GA through next week and begin with on April 16.

Related reading