Wunderman Brings New Focus to NY Flagship

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In a key personnel shift within WPP Group PLC's direct marketing portfolio, Becky Chidester moved to Wunderman New York as chief operating officer, relinquishing her CEO post at sibling Washington shop RTCRM.

She remains chairman of RTCRM, where she oversaw accounts like Weight Watchers, Abbott Laboratories, Time Warner Inc.'s Road Runner and AARP Services. Her move to New York is part of a coordinated Wunderman push to make its flagship office more effective.

"I'm going to ensure that skills, knowledge, performance and the organizational structure are all aligned to meet our business goals and objectives," she said.

Chidester reports directly to Wunderman New York president/CEO Steve Zammarchi. She will handle operations for an agency office with accounts like Citibank, Microsoft, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Chevron.

At RTCRM, Wunderman New York chief client development officer Barry Kessel will share the managing partner's title with Jeff Ross. Ross joined RTCRM 15 years ago, shortly after Chidester. Her CEO position has not been filled.

"During this transition period, I'll be looking for a successor" inside or outside RTCRM, Chidester said.

Another important appointment coinciding with Chidester's move is Tina Miletich being named senior vice president and managing director of interactive for Wunderman New York. The position was created for her.

A 15-year veteran of interactive marketing, Miletich previously was a consultant at Greenfield Online. Prior to that, she was executive director of New York agency Blue Dingo and founder of interactive firm Girlzilla Inc. She began her career at WPP-owned Y&R Brands agency Sudler & Hennessey.

Reporting directly to Zammarchi, Miletich is charged with Wunderman New York's interactive strategy, design, development and technology. She also will pitch for new business and work to integrate interactive with data, telephony and print. She has a staff of 40.

"It's absolutely a commitment for Wunderman to its clients in integrating all of its offerings to a stronger touch point with their clients," she said. "The goal is strengthening the offering and creating new realms in the online space."

The agency handles interactive marketing for Microsoft, Chevron and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. It is about to start new work for Pfizer, too.

Meanwhile, Wunderman New York opened its Customer Impact Lab. This new unit will explore and share emerging customer-facing technologies and trends along with their effect on marketers. Chuck Fletcher, agency vice president of interactive technology, is director of the lab.

He will tap the expertise of more than a dozen executives across Wunderman New York to conduct regular events, including demonstrations and custom presentations for clients on new technologies. Non-agency speakers will be invited and a blog for all experts maintained.

"What we've found talking to our clients and talking to our internal account people is they still have an impression of the Web that, at this point, is dated," Fletcher said. "They really look at the Web as Web pages and e-mail, and while they get excited about things like Flash and visual messages, the kaleidoscope has fundamentally changed.

"That's why we're trying to escalate the level of conversation to make them aware it's not the old Web," he said. "There's a lot of new potential out there and how they can take advantage of it. If you think of just e-mail and Web, you're going to get left behind. Some of the fundamentals have changed."

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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