Harris Diamond Succeeds Nick Brien as McCann Worldgroup CEO

Longtime Exec Embarking on a Road Show to McCann Offices, Visiting Clients

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There's a reason Interpublic's Chairman and CEO Michael Roth was circumventing questions last week regarding the fate of Nick Brien, who's led the ad-holding firm's biggest agency network, McCann, for more than two years. Mr. Roth knew he was getting close to naming a successor in longtime Interpublic executive Harris Diamond.

Luca Lindner, Harris Diamond and Gustavo Martinez
Luca Lindner, Harris Diamond and Gustavo Martinez

The company today announced that CEO Mr. Brien is being replaced and the reins are being transferred to Mr. Diamond effective immediately. The move ends speculation that 's been building in recent weeks -- not about whether Mr. Brien's days were numbered, but questions about how soon he'd exit and whether Interpublic would entrust McCann Worldgroup to an outsider or rely on an executive from within.

Mr. Roth in a statement explained the choice. "Harris understands the business needs of global CEOs, across a range of industries. He has a proven track record of effectively managing a portfolio of agencies and growing the top line. He has created a strong culture of collaboration, which is increasingly key in a marketing landscape that requires integration of services. And he brings a deep knowledge of McCann in light of the alignment between Worldgroup and a number of the agencies within CMG, such as Weber Shandwick and FutureBrand."

The reference to Mr. Brien by contrast was brief and polite: "We thank Nick for his commitment and for driving change at McCann during his tenure."

There's no doubt that Mr. Diamond, a no-nonsense native New Yorker, is certainly cut from a different cloth than Mr. Brien, a fast-talking Brit who spent much of his career at rival Publicis Groupe . One of the knocks on Mr. Brien's ability to successfully turn around McCann was his know-how in the marketing space was largely reliant on his time spent on the media side.

But by the same token, Mr. Diamond hasn't spent time steeped within a creative agency. Before arriving at Interpublic, Mr. Diamond was a political-campaign consultant, helping elect U.S. senators and governors. He boasts both an MBA and a JD and is a member of the New York State Bar. In recent years he's been overseeing Interpublic's CMG unit, which oversees a range of shops including DeVries Public Relations, FutureBrand, GolinHarris, Jack Morton Worldwide, Octagon, Rogers & Cowan and Weber Shandwick. All told, it makes up a large chunk of Interpublic's business.

His longtime experience as a senior exec at the holding company is no doubt an asset, as he already knows many of the players and layers involved in making management decisions that could prompt change.

Following the announcement of his new role, Mr. Diamond told Ad Age that he's been on the phone with McCann clients already and over the next several days will be traveling to McCann offices around the country getting to know staff he hasn't yet met.

"The first and most important thing to me is to continue to do the work they are doing and building upon it," said Mr. Diamond, adding that there's "tremendous intellectual capital" within Worldgroup.

Still, the lack of creative experience is probably why Mr. Diamond's appointment is concurrent with the promotion of two key McCann executives -- Luca Linder and Gustavo Martinez -- who will essentially be charged with overseeing the advertising portion of Worldgroup's business. "Their continuing leadership and complementary skill set will be key to McCann's future success," said Mr. Roth.

In his new regional role, Mr. Lindner will add Middle East and Africa responsibilities to his current title of president, Americas for McCann Worldgroup. Mr. Martinez will add Asia Pacific responsibilities to his current title of president, Europe for McCann Worldgroup.

As a result of Mr. Diamond's move to the head of Worldgroup, his post as CEO of Weber Shandwick will be filled by Andy Polanksy, who will be promoted from his current position of president at the PR giant. Mr. Polansky is another longtime Interpublic exec, having been at Weber Shandwick for almost 30 years.

"I look forward to continuing to partner with Weber Shandwick Chairman Jack Leslie and our firm's global management team," Mr. Polansky said in a statement. "This is an exciting time in our business, as we transform our offerings across practice areas to meet client needs in a changing world."

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