NEW YORK and DÜSSELDORF, Germany, July 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Global public relations firm Ketchum today announced it will align its German brands, Ketchum Pleon, Brandzeichen and Emanate, under Ketchum in Germany. Operating across eight cities, the newly formed group is one of the largest combined communications consultancies in the country. Victoria Wagner, currently CEO of Brandzeichen, will assume the role of CEO of Ketchum in Germany. Simone Hoch, currently managing partner of Ketchum Pleon Munich, will be appointed chief operating officer. In addition, after more than 20 years with the agency, Dirk Popp, partner and CEO, Ketchum Pleon, has made the decision to leave Ketchum.
"We are dedicated to constantly finding the best ways to provide our clients with break through communications solutions and to inspire our people. We see opportunities for both by aligning our separate operations under the Ketchum umbrella and leadership," said Rob Flaherty, partner, CEO and president, Ketchum. "The three units have unique skills to bring to the table. 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. 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."
In 2010, Ketchum merged with Pleon, a leading European public relations firm headquartered in Germany, in one of the largest-ever mergers in the public relations industry. Germany is the only country still operating under the Ketchum Pleon name. That same year, Emanate expanded into Germany. In 2013, Ketchum acquired Brandzeichen, one of Germany's most creative brand public relations agencies. Up to this point, all three agencies have operated independent of each other.
Regarding Wagner's appointment to CEO of Ketchum Germany, David Gallagher, partner and CEO of Ketchum Europe, said, "Vicky is clear thinking and collaborative, and she is a source of inspiration for her teams and clients alike. Under her leadership, Brandzeichen has seen tremendous growth, and we look forward to her leadership of Ketchum in Germany."
Wagner started Brandzeichen in 2004 and today serves as CEO of the firm, which is one of the leading lifestyle agencies in Germany, operating in Düsseldorf, Munich and Hamburg. Wagner has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing and communications leadership positions, including at Henkel, where she was head of brand communications in Germany before launching Brandzeichen.
"Since becoming a part of Ketchum nearly three years ago, I have been continuously impressed and inspired by the agency. We have increasingly seen opportunities for partnering to provide the level of expertise across the board that our clients need. Housing our three brands in Germany under one organization is both logical and exciting," said Wagner. "The blended leadership capability, comprised of outstanding PR executives from the three agencies, is extraordinary, and I am excited about all that we will accomplish together."
Wagner, Hoch and Horst Wettlaufer, who is appointed CFO of Ketchum Germany, will form the Ketchum Germany Executive Board. Hoch joined Ketchum Pleon in 2000. As managing partner, she currently leads the Ketchum Pleon office in Munich and has worked in the area of corporate communications consulting for more than 15 years. Wettlaufer joined Ketchum Pleon in 2011 as CFO and has nearly 30 years of experience in this capacity across communication and advertising agencies.
The Ketchum Germany Executive Board will work closely with the leadership teams from all three agencies to establish the framework that works best for clients and talent.
In line with these changes, Susanne Kochs, currently managing director of Munich-based Emanate, will become deputy office director for Ketchum Germany's Munich office in addition to Lutz Reuter.
Regarding Dirk Popp's decision to leave the agency, Gallagher said: "Dirk has left an indelible mark on the business in Germany. We are well positioned in the market as a result of his leadership, including recently being named the most creative PR agency in Germany, being a destination of choice for top talent, and winning awards in major competitions including a Cannes Lion this month for the 'Keys of hope' campaign. We wish him best of luck in the next chapter of his career."
Popp joined the agency in 1996 and had leadership roles in both the Dresden and Düsseldorf offices before being appointed CEO of Ketchum Pleon in 2011. He successfully launched and managed the consultancy's Issues & Crisis Practice in Germany and is recognized as one of the most trusted crisis communications experts in that market.
"It has been a wonderful experience," Popp said. "A time with excellent colleagues, great projects, and great clients. But now the time has come to continue my journey outside the agency. 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."
The alignment of Ketchum's brands in Germany will begin immediately.
Ketchum is a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. The winner of 19 Cannes Lions and an unprecedented five PRWeek Campaign of the Year Awards, Ketchum partners with clients to deliver strategic programming, game-changing creative and measurable results that build brands and reputations. For more information on Ketchum, a part of the DAS Group of Companies, visit www.ketchum.com.
Brandzeichen is a dynamically growing agency for brand consulting and communications, with offices in Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Munich. With strategic brand consulting and brand communications, the agency creates brand identities. The development and realization of digital strategies and integrated campaigns is another key pillar of the agency's portfolio. Renowned brands and companies are among Brandzeichen's references and clients. For more information on Brandzeichen, visit www.brandzeichen-pr.de.
About the DAS Group of Companies
The DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com), is a global group of marketing services companies. DAS includes over 200 companies in the following marketing disciplines: specialty, PR, healthcare, CRM, events, promotional marketing, branding and research. Operating through a combination of networks and regional organizations, DAS serves international, regional, national and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.
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