Ziebinski, currently president of Leo Burnett Asia Pacific, will also assume Booth's responsibilities as regional chairman and CEO of Greater China from September onwards. Booth will continue with the agency until 31 December to ensure a smooth transition, after being persuaded to postpone his initial June departure date.
“Eddie and I have been in talks regarding his plans to retire since a year ago," said Tom Bernardin, chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide. "After more than 20 years in the industry, Eddie has decided it’s time to retire from advertising."
In his new role, Ziebinski will continue to report directly to Bernardin and will split his time between Shanghai and Singapore. Donald Chan, group CEO of Leo Burnett China, will be taking on additional duties to oversee Leo Burnett Hong Kong. Margaret Huang will remain group CEO of Leo Burnett Taiwan. The consolidation is happening parallel to "good progress" in China, said Ziebinski, despite the recent loss of the Coca-Cola core brand account to McCann, which Bernardin played down as a project-based account.
The consolidation of Leo Burnett’s Asia-Pacific and Greater China operations is a strategic decision to achieve scale and efficiencies, use the full capacity of talent and capabilities, and enable the network to deliver greater value for clients’ businesses, said Bernardin. "Whatever we can do better to collaborate better amongst our own organisation is a very positive thing," he added.
Ziebinski is regarded as a "proven leader" by Bernardin, with his track record of leading two very different regions in his career: Central Eastern Europe for close to a decade and then Asia Pacific since 2009. According to the network, its offices and affiliates across 22 Asian cities consistently maintained double-digit growth in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Leo Burnett did not reveal revenue figures for 2013, but Bernardin is confident of "leveraging" Ziebinski's past success.
In a press release, Ziebinski spoke of history being "peppered with examples of the power of unity as people come together behind a united goal", which applies to Leo Burnett as it "unites two of the most vibrant regions as one". From a financial standpoint, a single P&L statement will certainly enable better management of projected revenue streams. By the end of the year, more than 45 per cent of revenue will come from modern, non-traditional areas like shopper marketing and digital, Ziebinski told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
Incidentally, Arc Worldwide (the brand activation arm within Leo Burnett) has proven to be useful as a "backdoor" for clients to get introduced to the credentials of the creative agency through shopper-marketing projects. "People are not as aware of what Leo Burnett can do because we get typecast like everybody else," said Bernardin.