Nick Brien Takes First Step to 'Shift Mentality of Organization'

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NEW YORK ( -- New Universal McCann CEO Nick Brien is taking the first major steps in his bid to right years of client defections and refit the troubled media network for the changing times.
Wayne Fletcher

Head of communications planning
He’s named Carat executive Wayne Fletcher as Universal McCann’s first global head of communications planning, a role designed to bring a broader view of how consumers can be reached in an age of media fragmentation. Mr. Fletcher, 36, now runs Carat Deepblue, a European strategy unit that has done well-regarded work for Coca-Cola Co. and Adidas and is slated to roll out globally.

Last week, Mr. Brien also named former ITV sales executive Graham Duff as president of Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Over the past few years, Universal McCann has been outpaced by competitors better able to guide marketers through today’s maze of communications options. Losses like Nestle, L’Oreal and General Motors Corp., in addition to troubles at sibling agency Initiative, have bored a hole in Interpublic Group of Cos.’ media operation. Making Universal McCann competitive again is crucial for the No. 3 holding company’s turnaround.

‘A lot to learn’
“The challenge is to modernize the disciplines of communications and media planning within the agency,” he said. “I don’t think there are that many agency networks that are that strong in this area. There is still a lot to learn about connecting consumers with brands.”

Communications planning has grown as a discipline over the past several years as consumers have become tougher to reach, thanks to the proliferation of digital media and changes in their consumption habits. Those changes have caused media planners to expand their expertise into areas outside of traditional print and broadcast mediums.

“I want to shift the mentality of our organization from exposure to engagement,” Mr. Brien said in a December interview. “I want to think about the outcomes and not just the outputs.”

IPG Media
Mr. Brien was hired away from Publicis Groupe-owned marketing services agency Arc Worldwide last year. Universal McCann’s profit-and-loss statement is now managed by the newly created IPG Media, a corporate media structure that’s beginning to gather some steam under the leadership of former MTV Networks President-Chief Operating Officer Mark Rosenthal.

Later this week, Mr. Rosenthal will launch the unit’s emerging media lab at an event in Los Angeles.

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