A little over two years after taking over responsibility for running McCann's flagship New York office, Thom Gruhler is being moved to a global role within the Interpublic Group of Cos.' network. He will drop the title of McCann, New York, president and become global managing partner at McCann Worldgroup, overseeing a telecom and technology practice the agency is establishing.
The move marks the third leadership change in McCann's N.Y. office in less than three years. When Mr. Gruhler was tapped for the role of office president in the summer of 2009, he replaced Lori Senecal, who left to go to MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond, and in the process, added her name on the door at the shop. The thinking at the time behind the promotion of Mr. Gruhler -- then only 40 -- was largely driven by his ties to the agency's once-massive Verizon account, which Mr. Gruhler brought in and managed.
But juggling a dual role may not have been ideal, since Mr. Gruhler continued to serve as worldwide account director on the Verizon account while also running the agency's New York office. His move to a new post comes on the heels of the hire of Hank Summy, a former SapientNitro executive, to serve as McCann's North America president. Mr. Summy's role has some overlaps with Mr. Gruhler's duties as New York office president.
Said McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien: "Thom has deep experience in telco and technology, and those are areas he's passionate about that are high-growth and areas of complexity." In addition to Verizon, other accounts that fall under that sector include Intel, Sony, Hewlett Packard, Xbox. "It isn't in the day-to-day of running those accounts, it's going to be about developing a framework for category growth...and identifying best practices and new business opportunities," Mr. Brien said. This is just the first of many practices that are being set up at McCann; a retail practice is forthcoming.
It's a move that means Madison Avenue is once again borrowing ideas from the world of management consulting, where global practices and practice leaders that are sector-specific are commonplace. WPP's Ogilvy has been doing for some time too, with a host of practices like OgilvyEarth, OgilvyCulture and OgilvyNoor.
McCann has in the past placed executives into senior global roles before parting company with them, but Mr. Brien insists that Mr. Gruhler's position is not a temporary one.
"It's a growth job ... and the agency needs growth," Mr. Gruhler told Ad Age . "I have decided to take on a chance to bring business from those categories back to McCann."