John Kottmann Leaves McCann, Heads to Ogilvy

Exec Best Known for Planning on Mastercard, U.S. Army Is Latest to Depart Interpublic Shop

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Another senior McCann Erickson executive has resigned.

John Kottmann, who for the past five years has been exec VP-chief strategy officer and co-director of planning in the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency's New York office, is heading across town to WPP's Ogilvy & Mather.

John Kottman
John Kottman

There he will serve in a new position: senior partner and managing director of planning. He'll also pitch in on new-business efforts at the agency, which for years shunned participating in pitches but has changed its strategy and become much more active on the new-business circuit. It's in the midst of the hotly contested S.C. Johnson review right now.

Mr. Kottmann first joined McCann in 1992 after a stint in management consulting. He is best known as the global planning head for the agency's key Mastercard account and one of the executives responsible for pitching and winning the U.S. Army account in 2005, and, importantly, helping McCann to retain it earlier this year.

He declined to comment for this story, as did McCann.

Colin Mitchell, worldwide head of planning at Ogilvy, told Ad Age he first met Mr. Kottmann during the Army pitch five years ago, and had been eager to recruit him ever since. "Ogilvy and McCann competed against each other and he won," Mr. Mitchell said. "I was intrigued to know what they'd done. ... I asked around, and everyone told me 'McCann's got this secret weapon, John Kottmann, who's brilliant.'"

"John is someone I heard about for a long time and aspired to meet and bring into the agency, and we eventually managed to do that ," Mr. Mitchell said. "We're trying to fortify the ranks of planning. We have a vision of creating a club, a council of elders, of top-ranked planners. Part of the appeal is that they can work with like-minded people. John is super professional, has this sort of understated charm and is a very likable guy. I can see him doing very well at Ogilvy."

Mr. Kottmann's departure comes after Ad Age reported last week that Lee Daley, global chief strategy officer at McCann, decided to leave amid what he characterized as "momentous challenges" at the agency.

While Messrs. Daley and Kottmann are understood to have resigned, McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien in his 18-month reign has also made a fair share of decisive executive changes. Those include hiring Linus Karlsson from Mother to replace former U.S. top creative Joyce King Thomas; replacing European head Brett Gosper with Gustavo Martinez; parting with three-decade veteran Eric Keshin, who is now a client at HP; and hiring and then ousting North American Chief Marketing Officer Mitch Caplan in just a matter of months.

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