David Kenny, one of the key architects of Publicis Groupe’s digital strategy, is leaving the company, the WSJ reports, citing unidentified sources. Currently the co-managing parter of the French ad holding company’s digital hub VivaKi, Kenny arrived at Publicis as part of the $1.6 billion acquisition of Digitas in December 2006. Kenny was previously chairman and CEO of Digitas when it was a Boston-based independent interactive shop. Sources told paidContent that Kenny will indeed leave Publicis on June 30.
Kenny’s role will not be vacant. He has served as co-managing partner with Jack Klues since the inception of VivaKi. Klues will be sole CEO of VivaKi, paidContent has learned. Separately, Publicis CEO Maurice Levy, has agreed to stay on past the expiration of his contract on Dec. 31, 2011, a move that was expected.
Although he had a large role in continuing to shape Publicis’ digital approach, Kenny’s departure was not a surprise. After helping chart Publicis’ path after the Digitas acquisition, Kenny has completed the two big jobs he was assigned at Publicis. His first major assignment entailed establising VivaKi as a digital touchpoint for all parts of the ad company’s networks. His second big mission involved integrating Razorfish into the organization following last year’s $530 million acquisition of the digital shop from Microsoft.
Publicis has lost a number of high profile digital execs last winter, when Razorfish’s Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Lanctot and Managing Director Jim Watson, who both chose to remain with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) a few months after the acquisition closed. Outside of Razorfish, Tim Hanlon, who helped launch Denuo, exited from his role as EVP and managing director of VivaKi Ventures, Publicis