NEW YORK, May 25—In a move that was both abrupt and shocking, Havas Advertisng’s Magnet Communications unit has replaced president and CEO Darryl Salerno with David Kratz, previously president of the firm’s public relations division. Salerno could not be reached for comment, and the company issues only a brief formal statement with no explanation for the change.
Magnet, with 2000 revenues of $26.6 million, was formed last year by the merger of Creamer Dickson Basford, where Salerno was CEO; the independent Kratz & Jensen; and two smaller firms. Salerno had presided over a cultural transformation at CDB, and led the integration of CDB and K&J, as well as its move to new headquarters in New York. Earlier this year, employees of the merged entity voted Magnet one of the 20 best public relations firms to work for in a study by The Holmes Report.
In a statement announcing the move, Patrick Lemarchand, CEO of the Diversified Agencies Group at Havas, said, “We are very appreciative of the job that Darryl Salerno has done running Magnet and Creamer Dickson Basford before that. He was instrumental in the creation of Magnet and in the integration of the four firms that constituted it.”
Kratz, he added, “was chosen for his proven vision and experience in building a successful agency. We welcome him into his new role, and anticipate that Magnet’s strong start will be reinforced and expanded under his leadership.”
Kratz, who seemed as shocked as anyone by the move, said he thought Salerno “did a great job in the first year” of Magnet’s existence, and added that he hope to build on that foundation.
Salerno joined what was then Creamer Dickson Basford in 1998 as president and chief operating officer, and later took over from Jean Farinelli as chairman and CEO. His previous experience included positions at Edelman Public Relations, Ruder Finn, and Burson-Marsteller, where he was responsible for financial and administrative operations. His strength was in management and human resources, rather than as a practitioner.
Kratz, on the other hand, launched his own PR firm, Kratz & Company, in 1984, and built up a portfolio of clients, largely in the consumer products area, before branching into technology in the mid 90s. When Kratz & Jensen was acquired by Havas, it had offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco and employed 80 people.