Antony Young Named CEO of Mindshare North America

Phil Cowdell to Move to Chairman Role as Young Makes Jump From Publicis' Optimedia

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Phil Cowdell, CEO of WPP's Mindshare North America, is set to move into a newly created position of chairman of North America in October. At that time, Antony Young, CEO of Publicis' Optimedia in the U.S., will replace him as CEO.

"These new appointments represent important steps in a strategy designed to increase Mindshare North America's role in our agency's global plans," Mindshare Worldwide CEO Dominic Proctor said in a statement.

Mr. Cowdell, who has served as CEO since 2009, will focus on expanding the agency's North American business to play a larger role in the worldwide media landscape, as well as bring global insights to the U.S.

It's an approach in line with the firm's continued growth strategy in the U.S. where, according to the Ad Age Data Center, Mindshare was the only Group M media shop that achieved a better 2010 year-over-year revenue boost in the U.S. than worldwide. The agency closed 2010 with $760 million in worldwide revenue, a 4.1% increase over its $730 million in 2009. In the U.S., its $159.1 in revenue represented a 15% increase over 2009.

The focus on importing and exporting global insights and business is Mr. Young's sweet spot. He spent 15 years at Publicis Groupe in various roles at ZenithOptimedia, including CEO of the Asia Network. In the role, he helped launch and oversaw Zenith China. Prior to that he was regional media director for Saatchi & Saatchi, where he led media-planning duties for Procter & Gamble in Asia. In mid-2006, he left his role as CEO of ZenithOptimedia U.K. to replace Mike Drexler as president of Optimedia, a predominantly U.S. firm.

Under Mr. Cowdell, Mindshare has won and retained significant pieces of business involving U.S. duties: CVS Media's $150 million account, Unilever's $800 million account, Abbott Laboratories' $230 million-plus account, the $220 million media account for Boehringer, the $100 million Farmers Insurance business, the $60 million Sun Products account and the $10 million Skyy Spirits business. The firm recently parted ways with Burger King, and the Royal Caribbean account is up for review.

Optimedia has also done well under Mr. Young's leadership, having held onto its $480 million Sanofi Aventis account in a review and brought in other business such as Orbitz. In 2010, it had $40 million in U.S. revenue.

UPDATED: Dave Ehlers will succeed Mr. Young, taking on the role of president at Optimedia U.S. Mr. Ehlers has been with the agency network since 1995, most recently serving as exec VP-managing director for ZenithOptimedia USA. He is responsible for new business and also oversees human resources, ZenithOptimedia Multicultural and ZenithOptimedia's branded-entertainment unit, Newcast. He will continue to report to Tim Jones, CEO of ZenithOptimedia North America.

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