OMD, PHD Get New U.S. CEOs

Omnicom Media Group reshuffled the top management at both of its major media agencies today.

OMD U.S. CEO Alan Cohen is departing the agency after five years in the role,  the shop confirmed late Monday after the close of the stock markets. PHD CEO Monica Karo is replacing Cohen at OMD while  senior Omnicom Media Group account executive Robert Habeck will succeed Karo at the helm of PHD U.S.

Cohen is shifting to a new marketing company that he is forming and that will have the financial backing of Omnicom Media Group.

Rumors were circulating much of the day that a senior executive level change was imminent at OMG. The shop waited until after the close of the markets to confirm the news.

It was not precisely clear what sparked the management reorganization or what role the pending merger between Omnicom and Publicis Groupe played, although an agency rep said the two events were unrelated.



Under Cohen’s leadership, OMD brought in a number of new accounts including Walgreens and Warner Bros.  A recent setback was the loss of the global Hershey’s business to Interpublic Group’s UM.

“In our business, success is measured in terms of big wins, successful client relationships, building and keeping a great talent pool, bringing new ideas to the marketplace, and most importantly, having a sustainable vision for the future,” stated Omnicom Media Group North American CEO Page Thompson. “By those metrics, there are no two people better qualified to ensure and sustain the success of both OMD and PHD than Monica Karo and Bob Habeck.”

During Karo’s tenure as CEO of PHD US, which began in March of 2012, the agency has grown more than 40%, winning more than $800 million in new business, the agency said today.  

Prior to taking the reins at PHD, Karo was President of Integrated Accounts at Omnicom Media Group, working with global brands including Apple and Visa. As the new CEO of OMD, she rejoins the shop that she first joined at its inception in 2002.

Earlier Karo spent several years as the top media executive at TBWA/Chiat Day, where she began long-standing relationships with current OMD clients like Apple, Visa and Nissan.

“The media business today is as much -- if not more so -- about business as it is about media,” Karo stated. “Media investment can no longer be defined in terms of channels or technology -- it must also be rooted in a deeper understanding of the client’s broader business priorities, challenges and goals.”

New PHD U.S. CEO Habeck is also an Omnicom Media Group veteran. For the last seven years he has been OMG’s Executive Director of Global Accounts. Earlier he was a top regional OMD executive. In 2005 he was appointed head of Prometheus Media, a third agency brand attempted by OMG that was subsequently folded back into OMD. Reports have surfaced recently that OMG is again pondering the launch a third brand.

Word of Habeck’s new role comes the same day that PHD retained the GSK U.S. media account, while adding Canada and West Africa as well as a global communications planning assignment for the brand.

“I'm excited to be stepping into PHD at such an exciting time for the agency both in the US and around the world,” stated Habeck. “Having enjoyed a number of successful collaborations with PHD’s  senior leadership over the years, I’m confident that we will sustain the marketplace momentum that Monica and the team has created.”

Cohen joined OMD in 2008 after a three-year run at Initiative, the Interpublic Group, where he ran the West Coast operations and launched the agency’s Innovations unit, which he replicated upon his arrival at OMD. He also introduced a number of new offerings including, earlier this year, OMD Sound. Before starting his agency career at Initiative, Cohen was a top marketing executive at NBC and ABC.

Three OMD executives are leaving to join Cohen at the new marketing firm: OMD Chief Innovation Officer Jonathan Haber, OMD's Ignition Factory East's director Trevor Guthrie and Ignition Factory West's director, Marc Simons.

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