Dave Ehlers was named president of Publicis Groupe's Optimedia US, succeeding Antony Young, who earlier in the day was appointed North American CEO at WPP's Mindshare.
Optimedia is one of two shops that operate separately in the U.S. under the banner of ZenithOptimedia (the other being Zenith Media), where Ehlers has been since 1995. In his new job, Ehlers will continue to report to Tim Jones, ZO's North American CEO.
Most recently, Ehlers was executive vice president, managing director at ZO, where he oversaw corporate development, including new business and human resources, and ZO Multicultural, which has an estimated $150 million in annual billings.
Ehlers was also instrumental in establishing the U.S. division of Newcast, ZO's global branded entertainment unit, and simultaneously served as its first president after it officially opened its doors for business in early 2010. In the next couple of weeks, ZO will go public with a reorganization that will involve several executives being assigned parts of Ehlers' old responsibilities. Both internal and external candidates are being considered for slots.
As the ZO executive overseeing new business efforts, Ehlers said he is familiar with Optimedia's clients, but will reach out to many for personal meetings in the next few weeks. Sanofi-Aventis, T-Mobile, Denny's, and Payless are just a few of the clients on the agency's roster.
One major new addition is Disney. Earlier this year, when the entertainment behemoth completed its media agency review, ZO parent VivaKi ended up with a big assignment that included the movie studio, home entertainment and interactive. Strategic planning for the entire assignment is parked at Optimedia.
According to Ehlers, the industry is likely to see more big pieces of business awarded to smaller shops, which can offer a more customized approach and where clients can get more attention from top talent, evidenced by the recent Comcast award to GroupM's smallest shop, Maxus.
And as HR overseer at ZO, Ehlers is already familiar with Optimedia's senior management team, so there won't be a long get-to-know-you period. "I'm really excited about this new assignment," he said. "I look forward to enhancing a culture that enables our diverse talent to grow and innovate."