CHICAGO--Edelman has promoted Alan VanderMolen to global vice-chairman of its Daniel J Edelman (DJE) holding company, charged with leading a new focus on the group's other agency brands.

VanderMolen, who has led Edelman's global practices and insights business for the past 15 months, will aim to develop sister brands such as StrategyOne, Zeno, Matter, Ruth and Blue, as DJE attempts to build a stronger international marketing communications offering.

While DJE has existed for a decade now, it has rarely operated in a cohesive multi-brand manner. Edelman CEO Richard Edelman wants that to change.

"We’ve started these brands up under the auspices of the US PR business," he said. "Now we want to scale them and make them global and make them full entities within a holding company."

The move is also being made with one eye on client conflict concerns. Unlike its rivals within the big marcomms holding groups, Edelman is unable to transfer conflicting business to sister brands, an issue that has escalated in tandem with the firm's rapid recent growth.

In that regard, the growth of Zeno, the New York PR firm that is now worth $15m, has been compelling. Edelman said that acquisitions would be central to Zeno's future international development.

Key global markets will include the UK, France, Germany, China and India.

VanderMolen added that DJE will be particularly focused on data and analytics opportunities. Its research unit StrategyOne is currently worth $15m. By comparison, Edelman noted, Burson-Marsteller sister research firm PSB is "an $80m business."

VanderMolen ruled out acquisitions in traditional advertising or media buying. Instead he pointed out that a PR firm is better placed to understand integrated marketing solutions.

"We, at the core, understand relationships and how to convene dialogs between brands and their stakeholders," he said. "Advertising is a one-way street." 

However, both Edelman and VanderMolen said that they would not attempt to mimic the structures of holding companies such as WPP or Omnicom.

The first step is a strong culture, and a clear strategy," said VanderMolen. "Martin Sorrell’s strategy of 'kiss and punch' isn’t consistent with our culture. We need to have a great complementary strategy across our companies."

Edelman added that the group still needed to "design a compensation programme to make it in the interests of our people to share business. We intend to do that."

VanderMolen will continue to report to Richard Edelman, executive chairman of DJE, and retain his current portfolio of managing Edelman’s global practices, its global crisis offering, and Edelman’s intellectual properties. 

Both StrategyOne (up 35 percent) and Zeno (up 12 percent) grew well in 2011. Branded entertainment specialist Matter and consumer marketing firm Ruth are both worth around $10m, Blue clocks in at $5m.

VanderMolen joined Edelman in 2002 as president, Asia-Pacific. During his nine years in the region, he quadrupled the firm’s business in the region and led Edelman’s entry into Japan, India, and Indonesia.