After fifteen years at the helm of various digital advertising and digital media companies, Matt Freeman is leaving Madison Avenue for Wall Street . The exec, who most recently served as vice chairman and global chief innovation officer at Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, is headed for Boston-based private-equity firm Bain Capital.
Ad Age noted a few weeks ago that Mr. Freeman was one of a slew of exits at McCann -- which under Global CEO Nick Brien is attempting a turnaround -- but Mr. Freeman's new job had not been announced at the time.
The move to Bain is a big change, as Mr. Freeman will be swapping out working in the agency world for helping Bain identify investments and consult with brand-led companies it owns. He is operating partner in the private equity group, which has ownership of companies such as Toys 'R' Us, Guitar Center and The Weather Channel, and he'll also be focused growing those companies from a media, marketing and product innovation standpoint. The new job also means returning to his home state of Massachusetts, where he was born and raised.
"I am completely honored to join the team at Bain Capital," he said in a statement. "The quality of both their people and their portfolio of companies is very impressive. This is a wonderful opportunity to apply my experience as a global media, advertising and digital marketing CEO to help improve the operations and enhance the growth of Bain Capital companies. I look forward to continuing to work with Madison Avenue -- albeit from a different vantage point."
Mr. Freeman has moved around a lot since his decade-long run at Omnicom Group's TribalDDB. In his time there, he grew the digital agency network, earned it cred with major marketers and netted a variety of awards and accolades. In the summer of 2008, he left Tribal DDB for digital-ad network GoFish. Under him, the company was reborn as Betawave, but within a year's time of that rebrand, he jumped back to the agency side. Mr. Freeman was hired by Interpublic to be CEO of Mediabrands Ventures, and then he moved to his most recent role at McCann.
His move to Bain Capital comes as the company is in the news as the centerpiece of an attack campaign by President Barack Obama against Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, who co-founded the firm. The president's campaign is running a documentary-style ad in key swing states that blames Mr. Romney for the closure of the Kansas City plant of GST Steel, which Bain Capital acquired in 1993. You can read more about the controversial political ads in this week's issue of Ad Age .