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Rank gives up rank for hometown life

Nov 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Dan Rank, one of the managing directors of OMD USA who long has been in the top rank of Madison Avenue’s deal and scene makers, is giving it all up to move back to his hometown of Chicago.
He will join the Universal Television Group as executive VP, based at Universal’s Chicago ad sales office. He also will oversee Universal’s Los Angeles and Detroit sales operations.
A search is currently under way for Mr. Rank’s OMD replacement, who, according to well-placed insiders, will come from outside of OMD.
In a separate development, Page Thompson, chief strategy officer of OMD USA, has been promoted to CEO of OMD North America. Mr. Thompson will report to Joe Uva, president and CEO of OMD Worldwide. In addition, Monica Karo, the managing director of OMD West, will now assume the additional role of chief strategy officer.
At Universal, Mr. Rank will report to Jeff Lucas, Universal’s ad sales president, and will be selling USA Network, Sci-Fi Channel, Trio, NWI and any other cable network that Universal Television Group may launch or acquire.
By any measure, Mr. Rank’s new position is a fine Chicago-based ad sales job. Still, Mr. Rank will go from managing approximately 300 people to managing perhaps one-tenth that number, and the sudden announcement that he is leaving both Manhattan and OMD, where he has spent 17 years, to take what is perceived as a lesser position raised eyebrows up and down Madison Avenue.
Mr. Rank says he is doing exactly what he wants, though he acknowledges the skepticism. “Many New Yorkers don’t get it,” he said, but the “bottom line is I’m going home.”
Both Mr. Rank’s and his wife’s families hail from the Windy City, and his parents still live there; besides, he said, his new employer has “significant growth potential” and will be making major original-programming and other moves in coming months.
Mr. Rank denies that anything dramatic prompted his move. It is simply a desire to return to his roots, he said.
“I know my current job has a lot of power and a lot of sex appeal, and I know my new job has less,” he said. “I’m fully aware I’ll never go to another Super Bowl. The chances of my ever making [Advertising Age’s] Media Mavens again are slim to none. … I’m comfortable with it. … That’s not what my life is all about.”