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Edelman Recruits DeVries CEO Stephanie Smirnov

Veteran Exec and CPG Expert Will Lead Consumer Marketing in New York

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Stephanie Smirnov
Stephanie Smirnov

Independent PR agency Edelman has hired Stephanie Smirnov as managing director of its consumer marketing group in New York.

Ms. Smirnov most recently served as U.S. CEO of Devries Global, a midsize public relations firm owned by Interpublic Group of Cos. She had worked at the agency for about 13 years. Before joining the shop, she was director of PR at Donna Karan. She also took a break from agency life, from 2000 and 2003, to work at L'Oreal.

"I never thought I'd go to another agency, but this opportunity came up and it was literally irresistible," she said. "It was an opportunity to do what I love most, which is consumer PR, and to do it at an independent agency that also happens to be the biggest agency in the world."

She first joined DeVries to work on P&G's Olay brand, and has helped build the shop's relationship with the consumer packaged goods giant. Devries' client portfolio includes P&G brands Olay, Gain, Tide, Vicks, Pantene and Downy, among others, as well as Campbell's Pepperidge Farm and E&J Gallo Winery.

While she's moving out of the c-suite, it's actually a bigger job. At Edelman, Ms. Smirnov will manage a group of about 140 executives in the PR shop's New York consumer group. Devries in the U.S. touts about 110 employees, 90 of which are PR practitioners.

As part of her remit overseeing Edelman's largest regional consumer group, Ms. Smirnov will be working with competitor Unilever, among other consumer brands. She will report to Russell Dubner, president, Edelman New York.

"Stephanie will channel the division's momentum towards bringing to scale an emerging model for consumer marketing that is deeply social, steeped in market intelligence and yet firmly grounded by a PR-mindset," Mr. Dubner said in a statement. "Ultimately, Stephanie's charge is to help evolve our skills and capabilities so we are a most valued player at the integrated agency table."

Added Ms. Smirnov: "A big part of the job involves the pieces of my current job I love the most, [such as] thought leadership and pushing the practice forward. It does get me closer to clients and to the work, but not at the expense of operations."

The hire follows Edelman snaring Jennifer Cohan to serve as chair of the global consumer practice, based in New York. Like Ms. Smirnov, she came from an IPG PR shop -- GolinHarris. Other recent hires at Edelman include: Catherine Franklin, former head of consumer in New York for GolinHarris, as VP and strategic director of consumer marketing; Drew Vogelman, who most recently served as head of integrated production operations for BBDO, as Edelman Digital exec VP and director of creative; and Bryan Chadwick, a former creative director for Y&R, DDB and JWT, as creative director for the New York office.

Of Ms. Smirnov's departure, DeVries Chairman Jim Allman told Ad Age, "She has been a terrific colleague, leader and innovator and I'm going to miss her. We've worked together for a long time and she leaves behind an agency going through an exciting evolution, which she's been part of."

That evolution involves a recent rebrand from DeVries Public Relations to DeVries Global, as well as expansion into global markets.

Mr. Allman said the firm is actively searching for a replacement. "It's an opportunity to try new energy and thinking," he said. "It can be very exciting for an organization, especially one that is in such a moment of change and evolution for us."

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