A new role - that of Chief Operating Officer - has been created for the first time in the twenty-year history of WPP Group, the world's second largest marketing services conglomerate.

Some see the occupant of the new role - Tro Piliguian, former chairman of Ogilvy & Mather North America - as the chosen heir-apparent to WPP Svengali Sir Martin Sorrell. But amid the dead zone of the holiday season, Piliguian could not be reached for comment and WPP spokesfolk were strategically unavailable.

Piliguian (58), an Armenian born in Alexandria, Egypt, moved to Montreal in his youth and entered advertising via TV production. In 1981, with two colleagues, he launched Montreal ad agency Academy. The shop was acquired in 1990 by Ogilvy & Mather, of whose Canadian operations Piliguian became chairman, subsequently moving to New York in 1994.

Unlike his boss, Piliguian prefers to maintain a low profile. "I'm not a shy person, but I like to keep out of the limelight," he told Advertising Age in 2000. "I'd rather push those people in the day-to-day out there."

He will not be replaced as O&M chairman.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff