Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett has hired Andrew Swinand, entrepreneur and former president of sibling Starcom Mediavest Group, to serve as North American CEO.
Mr. Swinand will assume responsibilities for North American business that had been handled by Rich Stoddart since February, when Mr. Stoddart was named CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide. Mr. Stoddart is taking the title of global president as part of a Publicis-wide shift to president titles for global roles and CEO titles for countries or regions. Leo Burnett Worldwide Chairman Tom Bernardin is stepping down but will serve as an executive consultant through the end of June 2017.
Leo Burnett is also acquiring The Abundancy and Ardent, two digital shops from the portfolio of Abundant Venture Partners, an accelerator network of startups and tech firms that Mr. Swinand started when he left SMG in 2011. Leo Burnett will dissolve the agencies' names and absorb their 60 staffers. Adding those data and technology experts will give Leo Burnett a "big competitive edge," Publicis Communications CEO Arthur Sadoun told Ad Age, describing Mr. Swinand as an entrepreneur who understands technology, media and creativity. Mr. Swinand also previously served as a Publicis Groupe client during his time at Procter & Gamble's Secret.
The moves follow an eventful period for Leo Burnett. While the loss of longtime client McDonald's was a blow, the agency recently won the global creative account for Jim Beam after a competitive review. Leo Burnett's shopper marketing agency, Arc, was also named in November the lead retail marketing shop for all MillerCoors brands, helping to offset Leo Burnett's loss of the Miller High Life creative account earlier in 2016. Leo Burnett's GMC business is in review, but Mr. Sadoun said General Motors remains a very important client and that the agency will remain in the Detroit office regardless of the outcome because it still works with Buick.
Mr. Sadoun told Leo Burnett staff in an internal memo that it was acquiring The Abundancy and Ardent in recognition "that we live in a time in which, thanks to technology, we can now predict what people want so brands can respond with relevant, value-adding experiences."
Transparent Media Partners, which Mr. Swinand formed last February as part of Abundant Venture Partners, will remain under Stephanie Ridley, partner in charge of client service at Transparent, and Bryan Simkins, partner in charge of technology.
Mr. Swinand will report to Andrew Bruce, who was named CEO of
Publicis Communications North America in September, in addition to
his role as president-CEO of Publicis Worldwide's North America
region. As part of Publicis' Power of One approach, Mr. Sadoun said
he wants Mr. Swinand and Leo Burnett in North America to have the
ability to offer clients capabilities from other Publicis
Communications agencies, like Saatchi and Publicis, when it makes
sense. Mr. Swinand will also work closely with Mr. Stoddart and
Judy John, chief creative officer of Leo Burnett North America.
In a further effort to break down silos, Publicis Groupe's Publicis.Sapient last year merged the digital agencies SapientNitro and Razorfish.