Mediabrands Reorganizes, Hires Talent from Microsoft and Facebook

Interpublic Unit Promotes Jacki Kelly, Jim Hytner and Recruits Gayle Troberman and Sarah Personette

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Interpublic Group of Cos.' is making a wave of senior management changes at its media agency umbrella unit Mediabrands.

Jacki Kelley
Jacki Kelley
Jim Hytner
Jim Hytner
Gayle Troberman
Gayle Troberman

Mediabrands told Ad Age that, as part of a series of shifts, UM's Jacki Kelley and Initiative's Jim Hytner are being promoted to Mediabrands roles. Additionally the company has hired former Microsoft chief creative hire Gayle Troberman to help market the group and Facebook's former global agency team director, Sarah Personette in a senior post at UM.

So what's prompted all these moves? The company is trying to adopt more broadly a growth strategy that it believes was successful in a few international markets last year. For example, in Australia, IPG Mediabrands grew revenue 20% in 2011 and will double that number for 2012. One thing that made the region's operations unique was having a Mediabrands CEO role that could focus on the bottom line of the overall group while the CEOs of individual agencies were enabled to spend more time with clients and focus on providing the best, most-up-to-date solutions for clients.

Now IPG Mediabrands is looking to replicate that structure across the globe as it implements a major overhaul. This marks its second leadership shuffle in a little over a year. The network has added a layer of global leadership across its major regions --North America, G-14 and World Markets -- and replaced individual agency CEOs with leaders who have media planning and strategy backgrounds.

As part of the changes, Jacki Kelley, global CEO of UM, and Jim Hytner, global CEO of Initiative, have both moved into new Mediabrands roles. Ms. Kelley assumes the role of North America CEO and president of global clients. She'll oversee operating units across Mediabrands agencies, as well as multi-national clients with headquarters in North America.

Mr. Hytner will take on the same role for G-14 while managing multi-national clients with headquarters in the region. Andrea Suarez will continue to oversee World Markets, the third major Mediabrands region. In individual G-14 markets, such as Australia, that already have Mediabrands CEOs, those CEOs will now report into Mr. Hytner.

One big hire for Mediabrands is Ms. Troberman, previously the chief creative officer at Microsoft. She will serve as Mediabrands' new chief marketing and ideas officer, and be responsible for creating more integration between Mediabrands and the clients' creative agencies --even if they are outside of Interpublic. She'll also be working with certain clients of Mediabrands "to get people telling stories for them," according to the agency.

Andrea Suarez will continue in her role as CEO of IPG Mediabrands for World Markets. All Mediabrands leaders will report in to global Mediabrands CEO Matt Seiler.

At Initiative, chief strategy officer Jim Elms will succeed Mr. Hytner as global CEO. Daryl Lee, global chief strategy officer at McCann Worldgroup, will take over Ms. Kelley's role as global CEO of UM. He had been UM's head of global strategy before joining Worldgroup a few years ago.

The reorganization will also affect agency heads in North America. Peter Mears, CEO of Mediabrands Canada, will move into the role of president of Initiative North America. He will replace Nick Pahade, whom the agency appointed as North America CEO only last March.

Sarah Personette will replace Yin Woon Rani, who joined UM in September 2011 as North America president. Ms. Personette had most recently served as global agency team director at Facebook, and prior to that she held senior roles at Facebook and Publicis Groupe's Mediavest.

The agency said that Mr. Pahade will assume a new role within IPG, but could not yet discuss the details. It's not yet clear whether or not Ms. Rani will choose to remain at the agency group.

What the agency network learned and back in October, said global CEO Mr. Seiler, was that six Mediabrands-led markets in G-14, including Australia, performed better than the eight without the Mediabrands CEOs. In addition to replicating that model with new Mediabrands hubs, he said the objective of the reorganization is to enable agency CEOs to focus on delivering customized content and media strategies for clients, as well as to implement a structure that will better position the agency to "take full responsibility for a client's total business outcome." "It's hard to do at a holding-company level due to conflicts; it's hard to do at an individual operating-unit level, because [the agencies] don't control enough of their total marketing spend; but it's easiest to do at the media-holding-company level, where you have the specific expertise and the scope and scale," he said. "It's kind of like Goldielocks."

He added that the changes in North America are not indicative of the agencies doing poorly under the relatively new leadership. Rather, he explained, "Learning from our cluster structure and from individual markets had not been as advanced then," when the group brought on Mr. Pahade and Ms. Rani, both of whom came from non-media backgrounds. Mr. Pahade was known more for his digital expertise, having most recently run web-based media-services agency Traffiq. Prior to joining UM, Ms. Rani led the GlaxoSmithKline consumer health-care team at WPP's Grey Worldwide.

In 2011, Mediabrands' global revenue grew 10.6% to $949.2 million. Non-U.S. revenue accounted for $604.8 million, while U.S. revenue was $344.4 million, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. UM's worldwide revenue in 2011 was $490 million, while Initiative's was $317.9. Interpublic formed Mediabrands in 2008 to oversee its media-agency operations.

In addition to the CEO changes, Guy Beach, president of G14 for UM, will become COO of IPG Mediabrands North America, reporting into Ms. Kelley. Marc Bresseel, president of Initiative for G14, will move into the role of president, clients and services for IPG Mediabrands G14, reporting into Mr. Hytner.

Mediabrands agencies include: Initiative, UM and new shop BPN, as well as specialty groups such as Orion, MagnaGlobal, Geomentum and Ansible, among others.

The move marks the second major reorganization in a week at Interpublic, following the holding company's decision to shift DraftFCB's media planning group and accounts to IPG Mediabrands.

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