New York: The Interpublic Group of Companies, the world’s third largest ad agency holding company, is reorganizing its media operations again in another sign of the growing importance of tasks such as deciding where marketers place ads, how much they pay and how they apportion ads between traditional and digital media.
Interpublic, based in New York, said on Wednesday that it would form an umbrella unit devoted to media called Mediabrands and named Nick Brien to lead it as chief executive. Brien, 46, has been a rising media star at Interpublic and was recently in charge of a task force that studied how to make the Interpublic media operations more efficient. In his new post, Brien will oversee media agencies such as Initiative, Magna, Magna Trading, J3, Universal McCann and Wahlstrom, as well as a “skunk works” at Interpublic known as the Emerging Media Lab.
Interpublic has also hired an executive from the outside who will work with Brien and oversee assignments like strategic development and diversified media services. Michael Hudes, 47, will join Mediabrands from Clear Channel Outdoor, where he had been global director for digital media; previous posts include president and chief executive at an Omnicom interactive media agency, Organic.
The formation of Mediabrands comes almost two years after Interpublic dismantled a media umbrella unit, the Interpublic Media Group.
A principal difference between the two units, Interpublic executives said, is that under Mediabrands the media agencies would retain autonomy and remain aligned with advertising and marketing agencies such as McCann Worldgroup (Universal McCann) and Draft FCB (Initiative). The Interpublic media agencies have been faring better recently than they had earlier in the decade.
Media account gains at Initiative include Hyundai Motor America, for the Hyundai and Kia brands, and the US beverage business of Cadbury Schweppes, now the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Seiler’s hiring by Interpublic follows the poaching by Omnicom in April of a senior media executive from Interpublic. Alan Cohen, who had been president for West Coast operations and worldwide innovation at Initiative, joined Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) as US chief executive.
Asked whether a war was breaking out between Interpublic and Omnicom, Mike Cooper, chief executive at PHD Media Ltd in London, said, laughing, “I don’t know about that.” There is, however, “a real shortage of talent in our business at the moment,” Cooper said. Indeed, Cooper said that he would help compensate for the absence of Seiler by spending “at least 50% of the time” in New York.
©2008/ The New York Times