MediaCom Worldwide Chairman-CEO Stephen Allan steps down
MediaCom Worldwide Chairman-CEO Stephen Allan is stepping down, the agency announced on Monday. Allan led MediaCom, part of WPP's GroupM, as chairman and CEO for 12 years and was with the agency for 38 years overall.
Allan will be succeeded by MediaCom Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Nick Lawson, who will take over as global CEO, effective July 1.
“I want to thank Steve for all he has done to build MediaCom into one of the world’s leading media agencies, working with many of the largest industry brands,” GroupM Global CEO Christian Juhl said in a statement. “Steve’s commitment to his people and the organization is unmatched. We wish him the very best in this next chapter and recognize that after more than 25 years in a leadership role he is ready for a new challenge. We appreciate the foundation Steve has built for the next generation of leaders at MediaCom.”
"He is the perfect example of someone who brings to life our vision of making advertising work better for people," Juhl said. "I am excited to have him as a close partner as we look at our future agency offering and consider how to create an environment where technology paves the way towards better work experiences for our people and impact for our clients."
Allan took over as the global leader of MediaCom in August 2008 after previously serving as CEO of GroupM U.K., and CEO of MediaCom U.K. before that. The agency credited Allan with leading MediaCom to "tremendous global growth, becoming a top-four media agency worldwide," citing COMvergence 2020 estimates.
Lawson, another longtime MediaCom executive, joined the agency as a media planner in 1991. He rose through the ranks, becoming CEO of MediaCom U.K. in 2006, CEO of EMEA in 2008 and, most recently, as global chief operating officer in 2019. It is unclear who will succeed Lawson in his role as chief operating officer.
Allan said in a statement that his decision to step down is the "most difficult one I have taken during my 38-year career at MediaCom, but I decided the time has come to take all I’ve learned in building and growing a truly global network and I’m excited to apply it to a new challenge."
"I have had the privilege and pleasure to work with so many talented and kind people who taught me so much and who will always be my friends," Allan said. "Together we amassed an unbelievable portfolio of clients and as an agency reached heights that seemed impossible when we started out. I have been so fortunate to have had the support and loyalty of countless people who’ve worked alongside me, many for two or three decades. Whilst I am incredibly sad to be leaving my ‘family,’ I couldn’t be happier to hand the reins over to Nick who is a world-class leader, knowing that the MediaCom I will always love is in very safe hands."
Lawson added that he is honored to be taking over.
"This agency inspires me every day–our amazing people, the outstanding work they do, the trust our clients place in us, and the opportunities that lie ahead," Lawson said in a statement. "I’d also like to take the opportunity to personally thank Steve for his leadership, mentorship and friendship. Big shoes to fill!”
Allan's departure comes after GroupM recently implemented a round of layoffs across its network. It is unclear the exact impact those had on MediaCom, or how many employees were laid off overall. A GroupM spokesperson confirmed only that it did undergo staff cuts.
“We are working hard to limit the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our people, while protecting the health of our business as a whole," the GroupM spokesperson wrote in an email to Ad Age. "This has included senior salary sacrifices and other cost-saving measures. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, in some markets we will have to make staff reductions and part ways with talented employees. We are doing everything we can to support those colleagues who are affected during this very challenging time."
Allan's exit also follows a reshuffling of leadership at GroupM that saw Juhl replace Kelly Clark as global CEO in October 2019. Kyoko Matsushita then replaced Juhl in his previous role as global CEO of Essence, the data and measurement-driven media agency of GroupM.