Is McCann World Group CEO Nick Brien headed for the exit? The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday on its site that McCann parent Interpublic Group is
“considering replacing” Brien, perhaps by the end of the year.
The story also reported that the holding company is looking for a successor for Draftfcb CEO Laurence Boschetto. Both agencies have been battered by account losses of late. Throughout 2012, IPG executives have referred to revenue “headwinds” created by losses last year, such as Exxon Mobil, which left McCann, and S.C. Johnson, which departed Draftfcb.
An IPG rep could not be immediately reached Monday morning, but in a statement provided to the WSJ Sunday, the company declined to comment specifically on the Brien speculation. But IPG CEO Michael Roth said in the statement, “McCann is a great brand -- we’ll continue to support its clients and invest in talent to drive further progress in the agency’s transformation.”
Separately, Draftfcb confirmed to the WSJ that the agency was looking for what Boschetto termed was
his “future partner.”
Brien joined IPG in 2005 as head of media agency UM; he is credited with making significant improvements to the holding company’s media operations. One major coup was persuading consumer health care giant Johnson & Johnson to keep its media account with the company after a review in 2007. He was named CEO of Mediabrands in 2008, then a new unit charged with overseeing both of IPG’s big media shops -- UM and Initiative -- as well as a number of other media assets.
In 2010, Roth appointed Brien to the top McCann post with a mandate to turn the ailing entity -- and IPG’s biggest agency -- around. At the time, the shop was losing accounts, and considered behind in adopting methods necessary to thrive in the digital era.
Roth has repeatedly stated his support for Brien and McCann during quarterly conference calls with analysts and investors. During last month’s third-quarter call however, he was a little less effusive about McCann’s turnaround efforts and didn’t mention Brien by name.
“The transformation at McCann continues,” he stated. “Major clients are
increasingly seeing the best of its integrated marketing solutions, and we are committed to supporting this great brand by investing in its talent and its resources.”
A rep for Brien referred calls to IPG.