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N.A. President Robert LePlae Out at McCann

Was Responsible for Domestic Offices and Canadian Operations, and Also Oversaw Independent Brands

By Published on . 1

McCann North American President Robert LePlae, who was hired away from TBWA/Chiat/Day in 2009, is leaving the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency.

In the post, Mr. LePlae had responsibility for McCann Erickson's domestic offices and Canadian operations, and also oversaw independent brands under the McCann umbrella such as TwoFifteenMcCann and Gotham . It's unclear when or with whom he will be replaced; the agency said it is doesn't have immediate plans in place.

Robert LePlae
Robert LePlae

According to multiple people familiar with the situation, the split emerged as a result of philosophical differences between Mr. LePlae and McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien. But Mr. LePlae in an email response cast the departure as amicable and fueled by a desire to move onto new things.

"As the global marketing landscape explodes with change, excellent business opportunities are emerging," Mr. LePlae wrote. "Now's an opportune time for me to turn these ambitions into new ventures. It's been a great experience to be part of the McCann Worldgroup transformation plan. Over the past two years, I've worked with some fantastic people, wonderful clients, and laid the foundation for sustained profitable growth and a competitive and creative culture. I'll be watching McCann Worldgroup with great anticipation, and wish the leadership team success in reaching the ambitious heights they've set out to achieve."

"We wish Robert all the best for his future, and we have no immediate plans to replace his specific role," Mr. Brien said in an e-mail. "I have great confidence in the strong leadership of our individual US agencies."

The churn of senior talent at McCann Worldgroup's North American operations has been fast and furious over the past year, marked by more changes than virtually any other major U.S. agency. Mr. Brien has been committed to strengthening the creative department, and has made a serious investment in securing a number of creative stars, starting with Linus Karlsson, who was snagged from Mother last year. He has brought in a number of highly awarded execs, including Andreas Dahlqvist from DDB Stockholm and the founder of the now-closed Farfar, Matias Palm-Jensen.

Meanwhile, the list of leaders who've exited Worldgroup after clocking time -- in many cases, decades -- is growing.

Lee Daley resigned as global chief strategy officer this summer; Brett Gosper was replaced by Gustavo Martinez in overseeing McCann's European operations; TwoFifteenMcCann Co-Founder John Patroulis left for Publicis-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty; Gotham CEO Peter McGuinness left for Omnicom Group's DDB; planning and strategy leader John Kottmann left McCann for WPP's Ogilvy; three-decade veteran Eric Keshin exited and then found a job at Hewlett-Packard; and former McCann chief creative Joyce King Thomas is now advising Longreads.

Beyond finding a stable lineup of senior talent, McCann's challenge now is attracting clients. It succeeded in hanging on to the lucrative Army contract earlier this year, and has brought in smaller assignments like Ikea, but in order to actually get a step closer to the transformation that Interpublic has bet Mr. Brien could complete, the agency must reel in some bigger fish.

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