Hill Holliday's Mike Sheehan is giving up his chairman title,at the Boston-based ad agency, according to parent Interpublic Group.
Mr. Sheehan moved into the chairman role this May after serving as CEO for ten years and working at the agency for almost 30 years. He said at the time that he'd stay on as chairman for a two-year stint. Long-time employee Karen Kaplan succeeded him as CEO. Now, only months after that appointment, Ms. Kaplan will take on the chairman title, serving as both chairman and CEO. Ms. Kaplan has worked at the firm for over 30 years.
The move will enable Mr. Sheehan to pursue his advisory and investment roles outside of Hill Holliday, the agency stated in a release. "We respect that Mike is increasingly focused on a growing number of endeavors outside of the agency," said IPG CEO and Chairman Michael Roth in a statement. "We thank Mike for his contributions and wish him well in this new phase of his life and career."
The holding company declined to elaborate on what prompted the abrupt change, but the move comes weeks after Mr. Sheehan accepted a role as an advisor for the Boston Globe. It's a position that could create a conflict of interest for the firm, which has appeared in Globe articles and works with large Boston-based clients that have also appeared in the Globe. The roster counts Dunkin Donuts, John Hancock and Bank of America, among others.
"The Boston Globe has hired former Hill Holliday chief executive Mike Sheehan as a consultant to help improve advertising sales," The Globe announced this month. The Boston Herald then reported that, according to Mr. Sheehan, "his job is to maximize revenue and that the paper's new owner John Henry, is treating his role at the newspaper as a 'full-time job.'"
Hill Holliday is a landmark of sorts in Boston and a shop with a history dating back to Mad Men days in Adland. Jay Hill, Alan Holliday, Jack Connors and Steve Cosmopulos founded the agency in 1968, when it went,by the name Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos. The agency grew 5.7% in 2012 to $184 million in revenue thanks in part to new business from Cadillac, TripAdvisor, Capella and candy brand Necco, and now touts 900 employees. It recently lost the bulk of its Liberty Mutual work. Interpublic bought the firm in 1998.