IPG Mediabrands Taps BPN's Liz Ross for New CMO Role

Interpublic Media Agency Group Wants to Tell Its Story Better

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Liz Ross
Liz Ross

Liz Ross, North American president of Interpublic Group's BPN, has been named to the newly created post of chief marketing officer at IPG Mediabrands, the media agency network that houses BPN and siblings such as Initiative and UM.

"Liz is responsible for further defining the mission and vision of our network," IPG Mediabrands CEO Matt Seiler said in a staff memo. "She will work closely with me, and the rest of the global leadership team, as well as the corporate communications and the business development teams to help identify and spark new client conversations."

Ms. Ross had been president of BPN since Mediabrands introduced it as a third media agency two years ago. BPN won a few big pieces of business, such as Hillshire and Morgan Stanley, under Ms. Ross, and she'll continue to oversee many of those relationships. She'll also continue to oversee the shop's operations until the firm announces a successor.

In her new role, Ms. Ross said she will create and share Mediabrands' story internally and externally during a time of dramatic change, when marketers and agencies need to apply technology to "the art and strategy of connecting with another human being."

Mediabrands revenue amounted to $1.06 billion in 2013, according to the Ad Age DataCenter. Interpublic's total revenue was $7.12 billion.

Telling the story of Mediabrands, one of Interpublic's most lucrative businesses, could also help stave off any pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, which disclosed in July that it had amassed the equivalent of a 6.7% stake in IPG through shares and options. The firm said it is seeking "constructive dialogue" with the board of Interpublic, the world's fourth-largest agency holding company, on "steps to maximize shareholder value."

An Interpublic spokesman declined to comment on Elliott Management.

The new role comes not only as Mediabrands aims to better communicate its vision, but also as the group and its agencies navigate with executive-level turnover.

Jacki Kelley, CEO for North America and president of global clients for Mediabrands, recently departed for the COO role at Bloomberg. Her exit came around the same time as the departure of CFO Jeff Lupinacci, Magna Global North America President Kristi Argyilan and BPN Global CEO Mauricio Sabogal. And that's only this year.

Early last year, the company uprooted two agency leaders -- UM's Yin Woon Rani and Initiative's Nick Pahade -- as part of a major management shakeup that had included the appointment of Microsoft's Gayle Troberman and Facebook's Sarah Personette. Ms. Personette has since left.

This week, Omnicom's PHD said it had hired Nathan Brown, exec VP-managing director at UM, to become its CEO. Lauren Snyder, who was head of communications for Mediabrands, also recently left.

Ms. Ross will continue to work out of Chicago.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article erroneously said Mediabrands Chief Operating Officer Guy Beach had left the agency group. Mr. Beach was promoted to a different role but remains at Mediabrands.

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