Ex-McCann CEO Nick Brien Named Chief Executive of Hearst's iCrossing

Looks to Expand Agency

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Nick Brien
Nick Brien

Nick Brien, the advertising executive who formerly led McCann Worldgroup, is joining digital-marketing agency iCrossing as its CEO.

Hearst Corporation, parent company of iCrossing, told staff of Mr. Brien's hiring this morning. His appointment, effective immediately, includes a new role at the parent company: president of Hearst Magazines Marketing Services

Mr. Brien is a seasoned agency executive, with several tours of duty as CEO at Interpublic Group of Companies' largest ad agencies, including Mediabrands and Universal McCann. Prior to IPG, he was an executive at Starcom MediaVest.

IPG tapped Mr. Brien in 2010 to serve as CEO of McCann Worldgroup as it sought to improve what was then an ailing business, but that project seemed incomplete when the company named Harris Diamond to succeed him 2012. Since then, Mr. Brien has served as a strategic consultant, board advisor and early-stage investor in digital media, advertising and technology startups.

"Nick Brien is one of the industry's most respected advertising executives, and his arrival at Hearst Magazines underscores our ambition to provide a full range of media products and marketing services for our partners," said Steven Swartz, president and CEO of Hearst Corporation, in a statement.

The CEO role at iCrossing had been vacant since Don Scales stepped down from the position in June 2013, and Brian Powley had been leading the agency as its global president. Mr. Powely is leaving the company after eight years to "pursue other business interests," according to Hearst.

The moves signal an expansion for iCrossing, which is known for its expertise in buying keywords on search sites like Google. Hearst bought iCrossing in 2010 for roughly $325 million and revenue soared as clients invested heavily in search-engine marketing.

Mr. Brien said iCrossing will look to expand by combining Hearst Corporation's reams of data on consumers with the company's talents at producing content, a recent focus for many marketers. Clients of iCrossing include Coca-Cola, DirecTV, LG Electronics, Microsoft, PNC, Toyota and Williams-Sonoma.

"Going forward, we will strengthen our reputation as premier digital marketing experts by unleashing the full potential of our combined creative and strategic resources to execute powerful digital solutions for global marketers," Mr. Brien said.

To that end, iCrossing will enlist the editors at Hearst Magazines -- which includes Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Car and Driver -- to consult with iCrossing staff about the work it's doing with potential or current clients. The editors will not have direct contact with the clients, nor will the editors be asked to create content for the clients.

"When we're pitching an auto account, Nick can tap Eddie Alterman, the editor of Car and Driver for his insights," said David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines. "We are strengthening the connection between iCrossing business, its suite of products and the rest of the organization."

Hearst's competitors in the magazine space, including Time Inc. and Conde Nast, have introduced new departments that enlist editorial staffers to consult and even produce content on behalf of advertisers. Hearst's digital division offers this service to advertisers on its website.

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