Margaritis to Lead Turnaround Effort at Euro RSCG
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Margaritis to Lead Turnaround Effort at Euro RSCG

Euro RSCG Worldwide has named former Ogilvy Public Relations chief executive John Margaritis to the newly created position of executive director, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR.

Paul Holmes

NEW YORK—Euro RSCG Worldwide has named former Ogilvy Public Relations chief executive John Margaritis to the newly created position of executive director, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR. He will initially be  responsible for assessing and growing the network’s North American public relations assets, with a focus on Euro RSCG Magnet.

Magnet, formed by the merger of Creamer Dickson Basford, Kratz & Jensen and several smaller firms and later expanded with the integration of the former Middleberg & Associates, has undergone significant management turnover since its formation, with four CEOs in five years. The firm’s first CEO, Darryl Salerno, left after about a year and was replaced by David Kratz, who departed in 2004. The most recent CEO, Aaron Kwittken, stepped down in November.

While its U.S. operations have struggled, Euro RSCG—a unit of Havas—operates several strong PR brands in Europe. It is particularly impressive in its home market of France, where Euro RSCG C&O is among the market leaders, with a reputation for corporate and financial communications, and its owns leading firms in the U.K. (Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster) and the Netherlands (Euro RSCG Bikker); a German company that is making a comeback (Euro RSCG ABC); and newer operations in Italy and Eastern Europe. Havas also owns financial and crisis communications specialists Mailtand in the U.K. and Abernathy MacGregor in the U.S.

But while each of those firms is strong within its own market, they have never really operated as a single cohesive network, competing with the giant multinational PR firms owned by Omnicom, Interpublic, or WPP and serving clients on a global basis.

Margaritis says his initial focus will be on the U.S. operation, but sees parallels between Euro RSCG’s current global structure and the situation at Ogilvy when he was named president and COO in 1988. At that time, Ogilvy operated as DAY Public Relations and Adams & Rinehart in the U.S., and under the Ogilvy brand internationally, although most of the overseas offices reported to their local advertising agency sister companies rather than to a central PR leadership.

“There has been a lot of turnover at both Havas and Euro,” he says, referring to the departure of advertising agency CEO Jim Heekin earlier this year, and of public relations executives Don Middleberg and Paul Jensen as well as the various Euro RSCG CEOs. “But there is still a pretty good core of generalist talent. There’s a strong Hispanic capability on the west coast. There’s a strong Pittsburgh office. There are some very talented people here looking for consistent leadership.”

Margaritis, who has been out of the public relations business since leaving Ogilvy in 1997, says he will provide that leadership for the long term. Most recently, he was director of marketing for Asprey, a British luxury goods manufacturer and retailer, and before that served as president and CEO of Firebrand Financial Group, a financial services company.

“That experience gave me a lot of insight into the financial services sector, and a lot of insight into what it’s like to be a client,” he says. “I’d never been a client before. I was always an agency guy.” In addition to his time at Ogilvy, he also held senior positions at Fleishman-Hillard and Burson-Marsteller in Los Angeles.

John is a dynamic and extremely talented communications professional with a proven track record in both client and talent growth,” said David Jones, CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide. “I’m confident his insights and perspectives on the public relationships industry will be invaluable as we work together to build a world class PR network.”

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