MAURER TAKING CHARGE AT CKS' MCKINNEY & SILVER: NEW CEO SAYS HUNTING FOR BUSINESS IS KEY FOR SHOP TO BUILD NATIONAL PROFILE

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Don Maurer celebrated his one-year anniversary at McKinney & Silver

in an uncommon way-he was named CEO.

In a planned succession effort, the 42-year-old Mr. Maurer on Feb. 6 took the agency reins from Bob Doherty, who remains chairman.

In the year since he joined Mc-Kinney, Mr. Maurer has quickly moved through the executive ranks. He came aboard as a senior VP on the Senior Management Operations Committee; by last fall, he was appointed president. Mr. Maurer, who retains the title of president, is only the third CEO in the Raleigh, N.C., agency's 28-year history.

BOUGHT BY CKS

His anniversary week was also unusual in another way, given that his agency was acquired by integrated communications company CKS Group for $24 million in stock (AA, Feb. 10). That deal marked a reversal of an industry trend, with a new-media specialist acquiring a traditional ad agency.

Mr. Maurer was a key player in engineering the acquisition. He said McKinney executives decided on a deal with CKS after months of internal talks on how to expand the agency's offerings. Other options included building an internal unit to handle integration and new-media needs or taking on a non-equity partner.

"We felt as consumers were changing, and how they consume media was changing, our clients needed resources that were available at CKS," Mr. Maurer said. "As a midsize creative agency, this now puts us out [in front] of the pack."

He added: "Technology has become such a part of our lives. It's not just a fad, it's an evolution in our society. If you're not willing to embrace this new technology, you'll be left behind."

With the backing of CKS, Mr. Maurer is striving to gain a larger national presence for his shop.

"McKinney & Silver has been the best kept secret in the marketing community," he said.

HUNTING NEW BUSINESS

To get a bigger foothold on the national scene, McKinney will work with new-business consultants and will continually be contacting new-business possibilities.

Prospect hunting will include "forming [client] relationships even before they are looking for an agency," Mr. Maurer said.

McKinney's current clients include Audi of America, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Fieldcrest Cannon. The agency billed $150 million last year.

Mr. Maurer, previously senior VP-director of worldwide marketing at Timberland Co., said his knowledge gained on the client side will help attract new clients and foster better relationships with existing ones.

"I can look at clients today and say I've been in your shoes, I understand," he said.

Mr. Maurer has one rule that stands out from his client days: A great agency has to sincerely feel passionate about a client's product or service in order to gain a client's confidence.

"When [the client] feels that passion and trust, it breaks down some of the barriers," Mr. Maurer said. "When you start to get to that level of trust, you can walk in with advertising that really pushes it to a new level."

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