DUSSELDORF — Ketchum is consolidating its operations in Germany, marking the final phasing out of the country's storied Pleon PR brand.

The move sees Ketchum Pleon, Brandzeichen and Emanate — which have previously operated as independent agencies — integrate under the Ketchum Germany brand. Brandzeichen founder and CEO Victoria Wagner, who sold her firm to Ketchum in 2013, becomes CEO of the group, instantly ensconced as one of the market's largest PR consultancies.

"The three brands will be phased out over the course of this year, and I’m confident the Ketchum brand will resonate with talent and clients alike," Ketchum Europe CEO David Gallagher told the Holmes Report.

Ketchum Pleon CEO Dirk Popp (pictured) departs after 20 years with the business, which became part of Ketchum following a major merger in 2010. Crisis specialist Popp, who was named CEO of the firm in 2011, is not thought to have an immediate role lined up after his exit.

"I am grateful to Ketchum for offering me opportunities within the network, but after a long decision process I feel it is the right decision to continue my journey outside the agency," said Popp.

Germany is the last country where the Pleon brand has been operational, with all other markets shifting to the Ketchum brand in the years since the merger. Ketchum acquired brand communications agency Brandzeichen in 2013. Subsidiary firm Emanate, meanwhile, launched its German operation in Munich in 2010.

"Vicky is clear thinking and collaborative, and she is a source of inspiration for her teams and clients alike," said Gallagher. "Under her leadership, Brandzeichen has seen tremendous growth, and we look forward to her leadership of Ketchum in Germany."

Simone Hoch, currently managing partner of Ketchum Pleon Munich, will be appointed chief operating officer of Ketchum Germany. Wagner, Hoch and Horst Wettlaufer, who is appointed CFO of Ketchum Germany, will form the Ketchum Germany executive board.

In addition, Susanne Kochs, currently managing director of Munich-based Emanate, will become deputy office director for Ketchum Germany’s Munich office together with Lutz Reuter.

"Ketchum Pleon is known for its corporate expertise while Brandzeichen is focused on brand communications and social media prowess. Emanate has earned its reputation around relevance marketing," said Ketchum global CEO Rob Flaherty. "By grouping these three businesses together, we are creating a consultancy in Germany that stands out from the crowd in terms of breadth of client services, innovative thinking, depth of strategic and creative talent, and geographical reach."