NEW YORK: In a shift in oversight within Publicis Groupe, Rowland Communications will soon be under the auspice of fellow Publicis agency MS&L.
As a result, Rowland president and CEO Mark Weiss will report to Lou Capozzi, chairman and CEO of MS&L. The move comes with no layoffs or changes in senior-level management at Rowland, according to both executives.
Weiss and Capozzi both insisted that this isn't a precursor to the dissolution of Rowland, which, like most large agencies, had suffered during the economic downturn. Capozzi was especially emphatic in his assurances that the Rowland brand will go on.
Instead the shift was billed as a recognition of public relations' distinctness as a marketing discipline, and a business that's best run by people within it.
"We hope we can help these guys be successful because we understand their business, because we are empathetic to their profession, and from a business point of view, we know how to run a public relations firm successfully," Capozzi said.
"The Rowland brand franchise is very strong around the world, and we hope to help them build on that franchise," he added.
Rowland, known for pioneering work in combining integrated marketing with PR counsel, boasts a client roster that includes Johnson & Johnson/Merck. But earlier this year it saw an 18-year relationship with Canon's consumer-imaging division come to an end. The company also lost a large chunk of its DuPont business earlier this year.
Asked what this move said about the agency's health, Weiss explained, "Rowland's almost 60 years old and it's working well. We've suffered from the economic climate as other major multinational networks have, but I think we've established an equity in several key areas."