MindShare nabs talent

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MindShare should consider renaming itself LionsShare.

The WPP Group media operation has the most billings of any specialist media agency-$17 billion at last count. It also boasts some of the hottest talent in the business, including its most recent hire, Marc Goldstein.

Mr. Goldstein resigned as exec VP-managing director at Interpublic Group of Cos.' GM Mediaworks, General Motors Corp.'s dedicated buying agency. This week he begins his new job as president of national broadcast and programming at MindShare, succeeding Peter Chrisanthopoulos, who left for startup Hispanic TV network Azteca America.

"This was a highly sought after position," said Irwin Gotlieb, CEO of MindShare. "We had no trouble fielding candidates. Marc was the perfect fit."

"The opportunity to work for many different clients in many different businesses pushed me to say yes to the job," said Mr. Goldstein. "And to be more involved in the management of an organization to help shape and guide it as part of the office of the president, and the opportunity to work with [Mr. Gotlieb] again, these were all factors."

Messrs. Goldstein and Gotlieb worked together for almost eight years, starting at Benton & Bowles in New York in 1977.

The timing of Mr. Goldstein's move to MindShare has sparked speculation about whether Interpublic is in trouble with its GM buying business. The holding company, and its media agency, Initiative Worldwide, pitched and lost GM's $2.4 billion consolidated media planning business earlier this year. That account went to Bcom3's Starcom MediaVest Worldwide. The loss surprised industry observers who had expected GM to consolidate all of its media business at one company.

UNDER SIEGE

Now, Mr. Goldstein's departure is being interpreted by some as an indication that the client may be contemplating unifying all the media business at Starcom.

A former media exec, who asked not to be named, speculated that Dennis Donlin, president of GM Planworks, would try to convince GM to consolidate buying at his agency. "PentaCom is the way to do it," he said referring to the BBDO Worldwide subsidiary dedicated to media planning and buying for DaimlerChrysler. GM made a bad call by splitting the two accounts, the executive said.

A GM spokeswoman said the automaker is very pleased with Mediaworks and denied ad industry grapevine talk that it was unhappy with the agency. When asked whether GM plans to consolidate buying at Planworks, she said "we have no plans for that at this time."

But Mr. Goldstein dismisses such speculation. "Mediaworks has performed exceptionally well for seven years," he said. "The entire organization has some very talented people at the management level and below. I don't believe that [my] departure will have an adverse impact on their capabilities to continue to do an outstanding job on GM's behalf."

Contributing: Jean Halliday

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