Longtime Omnicom executive Janet Riccio dies after fight with ALS

Riccio worked on McDonald's for DDB and headed up Omnicom University.

Janet Riccio
Janet Riccio

NEW YORK: Longtime Omnicom Group executive Janet Riccio died on Tuesday in her Manhattan home after a yearlong battle with ALS.

Riccio began her professional life in the mailroom of a Fairfield, Connecticut-based advertising agency. She eventually joined Arnold Worldwide in Boston before moving to Chicago to work for DDB Worldwide.

As SVP and international group account director at that agency, Riccio was responsible for managing McDonald’s advertising business in 44 countries across the world.

In 2004, Riccio moved up Omnicom’s ranks as an EVP, handling many of the holding company’s biggest accounts. In January 2012, Omnicom CEO John Wren asked Riccio to take over from Tom Watson, the founder of Omnicom University, as dean of the university.

In 2014, Riccio told PRWeek that her proudest career achievement was being hired by Wren as the global director overseeing our McDonald’s account across all of our agencies, servicing their business around the world. 

She added that being named dean of Omnicom University was a "transformational career experience" for her.

"It’s simultaneously humbling and exhilarating for me to preside over this program," she said.

Riccio was an active force in Omnicom outside of her formal responsibilities. She launched the internal group, Omniwomen, in 2014 and chaired the Omniwomen Global Advisory Council.

She was also head of Omnicom’s Common Ground initiative — an agreement between the five big holding companies to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

In her spare time, Riccio co-chaired the board of directors of the New York Women’s Foundation, was a member of the advisory board of Take the Lead, a national women’s leadership organization and supported Project ALS.

Riccio is survived by her sister Joyce, her three brothers, Victor, David and Paul, as well as her beloved nieces and nephews, Christine, Tom, Crystal, Alicia, Joey, Katie, Victor, and Nicholas.

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