HONG KONG / SHANGHAI - On top of their existing roles as CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Greater China and Publicis Worldwide Greater China, respectively, Michael Lee and David Gompel have taken the positions of CEO and COO of Publicis Communications Greater China.
In addition, Margaret Huang, currently CEO of Publicis Communications in Taiwan, now takes on the added role of chairwoman for Leo Burnett Greater China.
Publicis Communications was birthed 10 months ago—one outcome of the four-way spilt of Publicis Group announced by Maurice Levy last December. While Publicis Media Greater China, headed by Bertilla Teo, quickly named leads for its four agency brands in May, the communications side took seven months longer because of "the difference between creative agencies and media agencies", Lee told Campaign Asia-Pacific today. Creative agencies have ingrained values and ways of operating, so it will be easier to put media agencies under restructure, he said.
"We've all been given enough time to come up with this new structure and how to put this forward and work as a team," he explained.
Lee said he and Gompel make a good combination to head Publicis Communications Greater China.
"He has a lot that I don't have, and I have a lot that he doesn't have," Lee said in an exclusive interview. "David is more international, comes from a very digital-focused background, and has very strong connections within the French community in Publicis. On the other hand, I have much better understanding about the local market and a stronger presence within China."
"He complements me," he added.
The role expansions for Lee, Gompel and Huang are primarily to "accelerate transformation in this [Greater China] market", said Loris Nold, global COO of Publicis Communications.
Huang's added responsibilities do not appear to make her a replacement for Danny Mok, outgoing CEO of Leo Burnett China, who confirmed to Campaign Asia-Pacific that his last day with the agency is at the end of December. He is the second China CEO to leave the agency in as many years, following Donald Chan.
"This is not good," Lee said. "I will be spending more time with the Leo Burnett team the next three months. Since Saatchi & Saatchi has been building up momentum and David will be in charge of Publicis Worldwide, we need to make Leo Burnett better."
In fact, Lee said, each individual creative agency brand under Publicis Communications needs to be strong. As a "branding guy", he does not believe in pitching to clients and planning everything under one parent company's name [Publicis], he said.
"All the more I believe in branding," he said. "I need to uphold the brand equity within each agency and not diminish their positions in the market."