Q&A: New Publicis Worldwide North America CMO Julie Levin

Ms. Levin Returns to New York After a Year at the Martin Agency

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Julie Levin
Julie Levin

Publicis Worldwide North America CEO Andrew Bruce has named Julie Levin chief marketing officer for the region starting Sept. 8. Ms. Levin returns to New York after a year in Virginia at the Martin Agency, where she had been chief growth officer for the Interpublic-owned agency.

Until July of last year, Ms. Levin had been head of business development at BBH New York, where she brought in Playstation. Prior to that, she had been managing partner-director of business development at McGarryBowen, New York, where her team won the Verizon Wireless account as well as various Kraft Foods and Pfizer accounts, including Viagra.

Advertising Age: You're starting your new job in a few weeks, what are you looking forward to?

Julie Levin: I loved the Martin Agency and wasn't looking for a job, but when this came up, it was an opportunity to take what I was doing for a single office and do it for an entire network. The equity that's blatantly there for Publicis was so exciting, I had hit the job lottery.

Ad Age: The difference in agency size here is noteworthy. What principles will you be bringing from your experience working on a smaller scale?

Ms. Levin: I think a lot of the same things apply. A lot of it comes down to the talent. Leveraging it, getting to know it and nurturing it. Now it's really just that there are more of them. I was an account person for multiple years, the key is to pay homage to the brands you're working with. Now I'll really just be merging my new-business skills and account management.

Ad Age: The CMO role seems to vary by agency and by person, what do you envisage your execution being?

Ms. Levin: The cool part about this role is that it's not like a typical new-business job, where you're harnessing agency potential in a pitch situation and then walk away. I'm looking for growth to come in a new and organic way. It's going to be about working with the client and making sure that they're getting the most out of the agency.

Ad Age: At this point, you've worked at WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic Group and now Publicis -- have you accrued any knowledge that may give you a leg up?

Ms. Levin: (laughs) My brother works in finance and when you leave one place they'll walk you out with a guard. The fact of the matter is that you have to tell different stories. It's always going to be specific to that agency. ... No situation is ever the same but you'll draw on your past experiences.

Ad Age: So what key points do you plan to focus on at Publicis?

Ms. Levin: There are some longstanding really talented and successful people there already. Susan Gianinno, Mathew Anderson and new people from different agencies with different perspectives are becoming equity stakeholders. There are all of these people who can give me shortcuts to the magic and secret sauce and then those who come in with the fresh take. Andrew Bruce has been really smart about the people he has put in place, like Carla and Dawn.

Ad Age: You mean Chief Strategy Officer Carla Serrano and Chief Digital Officer Dawn Winchester. Do you think this new team of C-level women will impact Publicis North America differently?

Ms. Levin: I'm excited. I think there's something interesting to Publicis history and really successful women in leadership roles. In this case, I don't think it was purposeful on Andrew's part. It just so happens that we're all women who have the traits he was looking for. Even though it's kind of accidental in this case, I'm not going to pretend that I'm not really excited about this.

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