Amalgamated CEO Departs For Project Worldwide

Indie Shop Says It Does Not Plan to Fill Top Job

By Published on .

Just a year after becoming CEO of New York-based indie agency Amalgamated, Brian Martin is moving on, and joining the small but fast-growing ad holding company Project Worldwide.

Brian Martin
Brian Martin
Mr. Martin -- who is a veteran agency exec, having spent time at shops like JWT, Deutsch and KBS&P, as well as a former industry search consultant -- has been named to Project's strategic-leadership team as senior VP-marketing and communications.

Others on that team are the holding company CEO Bob Vallee and its regional holding company heads, CFO and head of M&A. When he starts in October, Mr. Martin will be responsible for helping to outwardly position the holding company as well as each of the individual agency brands sitting under it.

It could use the help.

Compared to its much bigger and more established brethren such as WPP, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom, and even the likes of MDC Partners or Cheil, Project has little profile in adland. Part of the reason is because it's so new; the company was only formed in 2010 around event marketing shop George P. Johnson. But it's growing rapidly.

Project acquired social-media shop Affinitive earlier this year and Partners & Napier in 2011. Before that it bought Juxt Interactive, Australian agency Spinifex Group and Germany's Raumtechnik.

More deals are on the way, and so are new hires. Mr. Vallee has talked of plans to invest in mobile and PR shops and wants to expand the company's footprint globally. A rep for the company told Ad Age that Mr. Martin's hire comes as part of a "rapid growth arc" whereby Project is focused on "hiring the most talented people to guide smart acquisitions both here in North America and across Europe and Asia."

Mr. Martin told Ad Age he decamped for Project because he believes it will prove different than existing holding company models. "It's an unprecendented opportunity to be a part of a holdilng company that is building itself out in the way that clients want," he said, adding "the speed at which they make decisions happen is very impressive." He also noted that "there's a lot of smart things we're doing while other holding companies would probably like to pare down some things and get rid of some things compared to what we can deliver."

Mr. Martin's "track record of working alongside top marketers and premier ad agencies makes him a good match for Project," said Mr. Valle in a statement. "Again and again he has led organizations into new areas where they achieved significant growth and increased visibility."

The existing senior leadership at the 35-person Amalgamated, which includes partner and Chief Creative Officer Eric Silver and Managing Director Michael Stefanski, will absorb Mr. Martin's responsibilities. The agency, whose clients include Coca-Cola's Honest Tea, Ultimat Vodka and Fuse Networks, doesn't plan to fill the CEO slot.

"Brian is a fixer," said Mr. Stefanski in a statement. "His contributions have helped put Amalgamated on the path that is fueling our current success and we're very excited about our future. We have nothing but gratitude and best wishes for Brian as he starts his new role."

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