Matt Williams joined The Martin Agency in 1991 as an account director, and today he has been named CEO of the Interpublic Group of Cos.' shop. The 45-year-old exec will assume the top job at the Richmond, Va.-based agency in February -- taking the reins from John Adams, who's overseen the agency since 1995.
While Mr. Adams will stay on as chairman, the move marks a real changing of the guard at Martin, transferring the responsibilities for the future of the agency to a younger generation. Agency president and former creative Mike Hughes also stepped aside a couple of years ago, making room for others to ascend at the shop. Most recently, Martin named longtime creative Joe Alexander chief creative officer.
For Mr. Williams, the top spot comes after he earned a promotion to the agency's general manager last summer -- a sign he'd been being groomed for the CEO role. Mr. Williams joined The Martin Agency in 1991 as an account executive. From there he moved into the strategic-planning area in 1995, and a decade later, the agency named him partner.
"His career progression uniquely qualifies him for this role," said Mr. Adams. "As a longtime agency leader, Matt simply has our culture in his DNA. As a former planner, Matt is instinctively strategic and his leadership style is both thoughtful and decisive. I've worked at The Martin Agency for 39 years and I can say with full confidence that Matt will be terrific as our new CEO and I look forward to working with him to take our company to even greater heights."
In his new role as CEO, Mr. Williams will be responsible for the company's financial performance in its Virginia and New York offices and its relationship with parent Interpublic. He'll also need to keep happy a roster of clients that includes BFGoodrich, Discover, Geico, Hanes, Kraft, Manpower, Mondelez International, Morgan Stanley, PING, Pizza Hut, the American Cancer Society and Walmart -- and ideally add some more marketers to that list, since the shop has been fairly quiet on the new-business front in the past year.
Mr. Adams said he will maintain several key client relationships while remaining active in select business-development opportunities.
Said Mr. Williams in a statement: "I look forward to building on the legacy of creativity and integrity John Adams, Mike Hughes and the people of The Martin Agency have created, and continuing our quest to make Martin one of the most innovative companies in the world."