In a statement issued this morning, Interpublic said the new role was aimed at streamlining international operating structures and encouraging agencies to better deliver client services. General Motors Corp., Unilever and Nestle are among Interpublic's major global clients.
Former Burnett COO
To that end, Interpublic turned to an executive with international experience to fill the role. Stephen Gatfield, the former chief operating officer at Leo Burnett Worldwide, will become executive vice president of global operations and innovation for Interpublic.
Mr. Gatfield, 45, is currently in the U.K. sorting out visa issues, but will eventually make New York his base and take up the new post in mid-April. Mr. Gatfield has a strong international background. He ran Leo Burnett, part of Publicis Groupe, in the U.K between 1993 and 1997 before moving to Chicago to join the agency's global management. His final year at Burnett was spent flying around the world consolidating the offices of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles offices, mostly with Burnett. Publicis decided to fold D'Arcy following its acquisition of D'Arcy parent Bcom3 Group.
Mr. Gatfield left the company late last year following frustrations about his future career path at Publicis. The chief operating officer position was later eliminated.
"I reflected long and hard about what I wanted to do, and concluded I wanted an opportunity to work in a role that would give me access to thinking going on at the holding company level," Mr. Gatfield said.
'Map of the world'
"We're going to figure out what the map of the world should look like for Interpublic. And how to design it in certain part of the world," he said.
"There's a recognition that having global flags all over the map is a costly and inadequate response to the needs of global business," he continued. "The big challenge is going to be what does global coverage actually mean. Clients are looking for global capabilities not global coverage."
Signaling that Interpublic isn't likely to make any major acquisitions in the near future, Mr. Gatfield said the company will be "more about building than buying." He cited the growth of emerging markets such as China, India and Korea as areas for attention.