Razorfish Chief Innovation Officer Colin Kinsella is being moved over to Digitas as part of Publicis Groupe digital hub VivaKi’s ongoing efforts to integrate the two interactive shops. Kinsella will serve as president of Digitas North America, a post that has been vacant since Laura Lang was named CEO of the unit last year. The shift comes exactly two weeks after Microsoft’s $530 million sale of Razorfish to Publicis Groupe closed. In addition to Kinsella’s shift, Tony Weisman, president of Digitas Chicago, will take on the role of Global Client Leader for the shop in addition to his current duties.
Kinsella is based in San Francisco and has been with Razorfish since 2004. He began his career at a traditional ad agency, Foote Cone & Belding and spent 14 years there. It’s not clear when his replacement as CIO will be selected.
The latest personnel moves comes a few days after Razorfish lost two top executives, Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Lanctot and Managing Director Jim Watson; both have opted to remain with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). Razorfish is currently looking both inside and outside the agency to replace those roles, suggesting that despite the ad industry’s tough times, integrating with Digitas doesn’t necessarily mean that the shop’s staff will shrink significantly.
As the integration process of Razorfish and Digitas goes on, it will be interesting to see whether Razorfish’s fairly advanced buy-side demand platform Atom Systems will either meld or clash with VivaKi’s more inchoate “Nerve Center.” Apart from the technological issues, Publicis have to carefully manage the egos of those at both agencies. Still, Publicis has handled this balancing act pretty well in the past, beginning with its purchase of Digitas nearly three years ago. At that time, the executive shakeout resulting from the Digitas purchase was fairly minimal and low key. But the integration process in this case has one significant difference. In 2006, the online ad market was still roaring and even the general ad industry was in pre-recession mode.
So far, Publicis certainly sounds optimistic about the state of the business, especially for interactive ads. Yesterday, Publicis declared the downturn “over” in its Q3 earnings report. The Paris-based ad holding company also pointed out that online revenues were up 5.5 percent in the first nine months of the year.