NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Marc Goldstein is stepping down as North American CEO of WPP's Group M and will be replaced by Rob Norman, CEO of Group M Interaction, effective March 31.
Mr. Goldstein, who is retiring, was named Group M's North American CEO in April 2007; prior to that he had served since 2002 as North American CEO of Mindshare. In his time at Mindshare, Mr. Goldstein was instrumental in developing deeper relationships with advertisers through product placement and production arrangements.
Like Mr. Goldstein before him, Mr. Norman will share management responsibilities with Rino Scanzoni, Group M's chief investment officer. Mr. Norman will report to Group M Global Chief Operating Officer Rupert Day, while Mr. Scanzoni reports to Group M Global CEO Irwin Gotlieb. Mr. Norman will remain CEO of Group M Interaction, which brings together the various digital arms and talent within Group M.
Mr. Norman started out at CIA (which eventually became Mediaedge:cia) as a media-buying assistant in the mid-1980s. He launched CIA Interactive in October 1994, six months after reading an article about the future of the internet and deciding he wanted to be part of it. He came to the U.S. from the U.K. five years ago and has been working to bring digital media, search and social media expertise into the businesses. He was part of the team that worked on the 24/7 Real Media acquisition and has worked to integrate the company's technologies into Group M's search and display media-buying businesses.
According to one industry executive, the move is a clear signal of the growing role digital will continue to play in the media industry. "It's a positive story because Rob comes from a digital and interactive background," the executive said. "And that emphasizes where WPP and Group M want to take the company in North America."
Group M has been pushing addressable TV advertising and has developed its digital out-of-home business. Mr. Norman, reached by Ad Age, said the move shows "our management recognizes the impact of digital on everything we do."
"Rob's background, combined with the direction the media marketplace is headed, makes him the perfect choice to lead GroupM in this region in the coming decade," Mr. Gotlieb said in a statement. "His digital expertise is unsurpassed and his superior management skills have been well demonstrated over the past several years."
Last August Group M consolidated the print-buying operations of Mediaedge:cia, MediaCom and Mindshare in an effort to create more cost efficiencies in a hurting media sector. The unit pulled a similar move in January 2008 for local broadcast, another bruised sector.
For Mindshare, Group M's largest agency, 2009 was a year of ups and downs, as the shop lost numerous pieces of business the first six months, including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Wm. Wrigley's media accounts, but it closed out the year with a series of big-ticket wins including Boehringer, Abbott Laboratories, Farmers Insurance, Sun Products and Skyy Spirits.
Sibling Mediaedge:cia lost the Virgin Atlantic and Monster business but picked Activision's global account and retained its U.S. Ikea account. And Maxus, which GroupM is hoping to establish as a bigger player in the U.S. agency scene this year, brought in a significant amount of new business in 2009 including the global UPS account, American Natural Gas Alliance, Panera and the nearly $200 million Fiat media business in Europe.