She will report to McKinney CEO Joe Maglio, who said the move was necessary to help manage the agency, which has grown from 110 employees since he joined in 2018 to 329 employees. While Walsh will continue to work with her clients, her new role will be focused on day-to-day operations specifically around integrating the different parts of McKinney, which it has been building out over the past few years.
This includes areas such as its media arm, health and wellness practice (launched last year) and its influencer expertise, which was added after it acquired influencer agency August United in January along with performance media company Tailwind.
“My success in this new role is really about building that integrated ecosystem,” Walsh said. “When I look forward 12 months or 24 months, I want to be able to have more clients, which we are already seeing, use more of our different capabilities to untap their potential and have those work together. And I think building the cases of that success is going to be a big part of what I do.”
A decision hasn't been made on a new chief client officer, according to a spokeswoman for the agency.
Momentum and perception
Despite being around for over five decades, McKinney still remains somewhat under the radar according to Steve Boehler, founding partner of consultancy Mercer Island Group.
“McKinney is a fine agency,” Boehler said. “They aren’t specifically requested by name by our clients… which puts them in the same position as most agencies. Unaided awareness of agencies is low and is a big challenge for most agencies.”
Another consultant called McKinney an “ascendant shop” that typically fares well in reviews.
In April, McKinney picked up creative agency of record responsibilities for Popeyes, which was a big win for the agency. Other recent wins include being named U.S. AOR for pharmaceutical company Indivior, Blue Diamond Growers and Puma Running. It also counts ESPN, Natural Light, Samsung and Pampers as clients.
Battling perception isn’t something new for Maglio, who said the agency had other perception issues when he took on the role in 2018, including being viewed as a “traditional TV agency” and being dubbed a “regional agency” because it’s headquartered in Durham.
Maglio’s focus has been on positioning McKinney as more than a core creative agency.
“I think one of the first things we did was really just expand that aperture and say, there are things we do really well, let's really create a foundation and almost label what those things are that we do really well,” Maglio said.