Dentsu Aegis Creates U.S. CEO Role as Part of Aggressive Bid for Growth

Rob Horler Previously CEO of Dentsu Northern Europe

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Rob Horler
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Dentsu Aegis Network has promoted Rob Horler to the newly created post of U.S. CEO from CEO of Dentsu Northern Europe as the network sets more aggressive growth goals in the country.

Mr. Horler will continue to report to Nigel Morris, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Americas & EMEA. He'll relocate to New York from London and officially start in the new role in April 2015.

"In '09 we set a growth goal of doubling [the U.S.] in three years, and we grew nearly 300%," Mr. Morris said. "Over the next three to five years, we absolutely have the goal to double the size of the business in the U.S. We see the U.S. as both strategically important and as a significant source of growth. We really need hands-on operational leadership to be able to bring that together."

While the network has experienced "incremental growth" and momentum thanks to existing shops' success and its more recent mid-sized digital agency acquisitions, including Covario and MKTG, the goal now is to drive "exponential growth," Mr. Morris said.

"With that momentum we have an appetite to look at potentially some bigger deals, but we're always driven by what is the right one," he added.

Don't expect the group to buy another McGarryBowen, the creative, once-indie darling it acquired last decade. Mr. Horler said future deals aren't likely to be in the traditional creative agency space while the group focuses on expanding its social, mobile, video, automated ad buying, e-commerce and customer relationship capabilities, he said.

Digital is where Mr. Horler thrives. He joined the network as managing partner of Carat in 2000. Two years later, he was promoted to managing director and helped open U.K.-based digital agency Diffiniti within the network. In 2009, Aegis' iProspect absorbed Diffiniti to bring together search and digital. He also helped revitalize McGarryBowen in the U.K., where it had been "struggling a bit," he said.

"He really understands the implications of the digital economy as well as the mechanics of it," Mr. Morris said. "He brought together performance display and search 10 years ago, when people weren't even thinking about that."

He's also responsible for helping to grow the group's relationship with Facebook, having spent time with Facebook VP-Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson during her time in London.

"Rob was on a very short list of people I spent considerable time with as I tried to think about what we needed to do to take our business to the next level not only in the U.K. but through all of EMEA," she said. "He's one of the most thoughtful leaders I've had an opportunity to work with. This is a big move and I think one that's going to certainly be noticeable."

Dentsu Aegis' CEOs in France and the U.K. will assume oversight of additional European markets. Mr. Horler will retain his global executive responsibility for the ongoing global development of the holding company's iProspect and Data2Decisions brands.

Dentsu Aegis Network, the unit of Japanese holding company Dentsu that houses agencies based outside Japan, includes media agency Carat; digital agencies 360i, Isobar and Firstborn; and McGarryBowen.

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