A year after exiting the top post at WPP's Y&R , Hamish McLennan has landed at News Corp., as exec VP-Office of the Chairman -- a job created to help the embattled company forge ties with global brands.
Mr. McLennan and News Corp. Chairman-CEO Rupert Murdoch, both native Australians, have been acquainted for some time. At the 2008 Cannes ad fest, Mr. McLennan interviewed Mr. Murdoch on stage about the media business.
In his new role, Mr. McClennan will report to both Mr. Murdoch and News Corp. President-Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey. He will divide his time between Sydney and New York.
"Mr. McLennan will be responsible for developing and enhancing News Corp.'s large-scale, global brand partnerships to maximize revenue derived from the company's deep portfolio of media assets," News Corp. said in a statement. "[He] will collaborate closely with senior business leaders across News Corp. to strengthen the company's rich and sustainable marketing alliances, and better position its core assets -- and their digital extensions -- for today's global marketplace."
Mr. McLennan will work in tandem with a News Corp. unit, known internally as Fox One, that devises cross-media deals throughout the company. Led by veteran Fox broadcast-network ad-sales executive Jean Rossi, the unit recently assembled an ambitious deal that has Unilever sponsoring the Fox drama "Touch" not only on U.S. TV but on various networks worldwide.
But News Corp. believed that other media conglomerates were competing more effectively such deals. Mr. McClennan will survey the landscape for missed opportunities. He won't have a staff but will involve News Corp. business units and employees.
"As we grow our international footprint we see a real opportunity to bolster the value of our brand partnerships, and I am convinced that Hamish's considerable industry experience, coupled with a unique and wide-ranging strategic vision, make him the right executive to deliver the insights we need to maximize our global media investments," said Mr. Murdoch in the statement.
It's a big change for Mr. McLennan, who's spent his entire career at ad agencies. After cutting his teeth at George Patterson Bates, he went to work for Y&R , rising to head the network's Australian and New Zealand operations before being named global CEO in 2006. He left a year ago, on the heels of a rough patch that saw the defection of several major clients, such as Dell , MetLife and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Group.At the time, Mr. McLennan and Y&R said he was returning to Australia for family reasons.
Though News Corp.'s overall business continues unharmed, the company spent $104 million in second-half 2011 dealing with fallout from its phone-hacking scandal.