WPP's Mindshare reshuffled its top North American management team Thursday, naming Antony Young CEO. As North American CEO, Young will oversee the shop's U.S. and Canadian operations. Young's predecessor, Phil Cowdell, was elevated to the new post of North American chairman at the agency.
Both executives report to Dominic Proctor, global CEO of Mindshare, who stated that the appointments are part of a strategy to "increase Mindshare North America's role in our agency's global plans."
Young joins the agency from Publicis Groupe's Optimedia, where he had been CEO of the shop's U.S. operations. He is stepping up to manage a much larger organization. In the U.S., Mindshare was the third-ranked agency (in a tie with Publicis' Starcom) in 2010, according to RECMA -- with a little more than $9 billion in billings, up 12%. The shop's Canadian unit (ranked fourth in the country) added nearly another $800 million, growing its total by 32% last year.
By comparison, Optimedia under Young had U.S. billings of $2.4 billion last year -- up 21%, per RECMA. It was the 13th-ranked shop.
Cowdell's new assignment is expanding Mindshare's North American business with multinational clients, such as Ford, Unilever and Pepsi. Cowdell, a 10-year Mindshare veteran, was named the shop's North American CEO in May of 2009, succeeding Scott Neslund, who earlier this week was named CEO of Publicis digital shop Moxie.
During Cowdell's term as CEO, Mindshare made a comeback on the client development front, winning more than $2 billion in new accounts, including U.S. assignments from Boehringer ($250 million) and Radio Shack ($140 million), as well as Unilever's Canadian account ($200 million).
At Optimedia, Young and his team were also adept on the pitch front. Last year, they convinced drug giant Sanofi-Aventis to keep its $450 million global account with the agency. The shop also won Pinnacle Foods, among a number of others.
Young, a 15-year Publicis Groupe veteran, has been U.S. CEO at Optimedia since 2006. Young previously served as the London-based CEO of ZenithOptimedia UK. Before that, he oversaw the launch of Zenith in China and served as that shop's Asia network CEO.
Prior to running Mindshare North America, Cowdell was one of the shop's top client global leaders, handling huge accounts like Ford, Unilever and Kimberly-Clark. Earlier, he led the media operation at WPP's Team Detroit.
Of his new role, Cowdell said he plans to work with both current and potential clients. The goal, he said, "is to have broader conversations with them about how Mindshare can better partner with them to help drive the sum of their businesses."