After months of speculation, WPP has named Torrence Boone, former President of Digitas, Boston, CEO of the global agency it is building from the ground up to service its first client, Dell.
"The opportunity to play a leadership role in the creation of a new agency, built to spec, with an ambition to redefine the client-agency relationship, comes along perhaps once in a lifetime," Mr. Boone said in a statement. "I'm thoroughly excited about Project Da Vinci's prospects and look forward to working with an exceptionally talented team to tackle the marketing challenges of Dell and other clients in today's dramatically changed media, marketing and customer landscape."
Mr. Boone, 38, who declined to grant an interview today, comes to the start-up venture after several years at Digitas, which he joined in 2001. He previously served as VP-general manager at interactive shop Avenue A. Earlier, Mr. Boone, who holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, was a senior manager at Bain & Co., where he focused on the health-care/pharmaceuticals and consumer-products areas.
He will officially take the reigns in early June, will be based in the agency's New York headquarters and will report directly to WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell.
'A new kind of marketing organization'
"The goal from the start was to design and build a new kind of marketing organization that not only provides unique solutions for Dell, but meets other clients' marketing needs and does so using developments in technology to guide and measure its marketing decisions," Mr. Sorrell said in a statement. "Torrence is ideally suited to this critically important leadership role. His deep experience across multiple marketing disciplines and his reputation as a developer of innovative marketing programs make him uniquely qualified to lead Project Da Vinci as we focus on reinventing the approach for integrated marketing services. We believe that Project Da Vinci will provide a template for other clients with similar desires."
Mr. Boone's appointment is long-awaited; it has been nearly five months since WPP was handed Dell's three-year, $4.5 billion marketing contract, with the understanding that the holding company would build it a custom-made global agency network.
In his new role, Mr. Boone will be responsible for an agency with hubs in four U.S. cities, as well as London, Beijing, Singapore and Sao Paolo, and a staff of 1,000 or more staff globally. He will also have the help of a leadership team assembled ahead of his arrival. It includes Valerie Hausladen, managing director, Austin office; Kelly McGinnis, chief corporate communications officer; Matt Rayner, chief media officer; Jack Reynolds, chief talent officer; John Roulston-Bates, chief technology officer; Joe Scangamor, chief operating officer and chief financial officer; Ken Segall, chief creative officer; Stephen Sonnenfeld, president, consumer-solutions group; and Jeffrey Wilks, president, business-solutions group.
With a CEO in place, Da Vinci will focus on, among other things, establishing a new name and identity, which it expects to introduce soon.