Dominic Proctor

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When Martin Sorrell asked him to summarize MindShare's key to success in a single word, Dominic Proctor replied: "Retention."

MindShare Worldwide's CEO points proudly to the agency's sterling record for retention-of key staff, strategies and marketers.

"Search consultants point out our management stability, and we haven't lost any significant international clients," Mr. Proctor says. "And I'm not a new guy. I was employee No. 1."

Mr. Procter, 46, took over as CEO of MindShare earlier this year, adding the U.S. to his responsibili- ties when previous CEO Irwin Gotlieb became CEO of GroupM, WPP's media services parent for MindShare and Mediaedge:cia. But Mr. Procter had handled the global business as MindShare's chief operating officer since the media specialist network was started six years ago-by Mr. Proctor.

With his new U.S. role, Mr. Proctor now splits his time 50/50 between London and the U.S., where he has just rented a Manhattan apartment in Union Square, although his family, including four children between the ages of 11 and 17, still live in the U.K.


The media specialist came late to the U.S., where there was resistance to moving away from the full-service agency model until Mr. Sorrell made it clear that's what he wanted.

Now MindShare is one of the hottest media specialists, on a winning streak that started with Gillette Co.'s $300 million global media account last year. Mr. Procter brags about the Gillette victory-a challenge because MindShare held the account nowhere in the world, and had to defeat two incumbents. He modestly says he was just managing the network while "the other guys got on with the pitch."

Now MindShare has a chance at a similar feat. The agency has been added to the list to pitch against two incumbents for the $300 million Coca-Cola Co. U.S. media planning and buying business, now held by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann Worldwide and Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group.

During the first half of 2003, MindShare won $912 million in new business, including $354 million in the U.S., according to the company. New business is running at about the same rate as last year.

Mr. Proctor's first steps in his own career weren't as well-organized as his country-by-country rollout of MindShare. He says he was influenced, at 21, by a bar acquaintance who suggested he join an ad agency because "the women are beautiful and there's a lot to drink. I thought I was going to be a copywriter," he says. "I was quite surprised to discover the first day that the only thing on my desk was a calculator."

"We're successful because quite a few of our competitors are asleep at the wheel or [financially] drained by parent companies," he says. "We're able to re-invest in talent and insights ... What clients buy are insights and people. So we'll retain retention."

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