Starcom and CDO Finnegan Split Over Rift
Sean Finnegan, president and chief digital officer at Publicis Group's Starcom MediaVest Group, is heading for the door. A rift between Finnegan and Starcom is reportedly at the root of the departure, although it's being called a "mutual decision."
"SMG and Sean Finnegan have made a mutual decision to separate," said an SMG spokesman. "This decision has given SMG an opportunity to evaluate our overall digital leadership structure."
As of Wednesday, SMG had yet to name a replacement for Finnegan, who is expected to leave the agency by November 15.
Finnegan joined Starcom MediaVest Group about two years ago from the in-text ad company Vibrant Media.
Whatever the issues between Finnegan and Starcom, the agency recently has shown little sign of weakness or lack of focus.
SMG, for example, recently announced a deal with production company BermanBraun to spend north of $100 million in advertising across various entertainment Web sites.
Slated to begin on January 1, the four-year deal is expected to include multiple BermanBraun properties, including celebrity gossip site Wonderwall.com and health and beauty site Glo.com, as well as those still in their planning stages.
Starcom clients -- including Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Wal-Mart -- will be able to help shape the sites that are still in development, Laura Desmond, global CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, said at the time.
Perhaps tellingly, Publicis Groupe veteran Brian Terkelsen, president of Starcom's branded entertainment unit, LiquidThread, was pegged to manage the initiative, which will likely include a political portal for MSNBC.com; a site directed at Latinos, as well as movie and television portals.
Per the deal, SMG clients are getting "first look" privileges for all digital content produced by BermanBraun -- which, in turn, will be strategically designed to scale across VivaKi brands.
Prior to Vibrant, Finnegan served as CEO of Omnicom Media Group's OMG Digital, among other digital agency stints.