Maxxcom -- which had been the holding company’s umbrella media unit -- has been rebranded MDC Media Partners, and Cass will oversee it as CEO. And the holding company is merging two media agencies it purchased two years ago -- TargetCast and RJ Palmer. The combined operation is called Assembly, and Cass will also be CEO of that entity.
Steve Farella, who had served as both CEO of Maxxcom and TargetCast, becomes chairman of both entities. Peter Knobloch, the former CEO of RJ Palmer, has been appointed Chief Investment Officer of Assembly and will lead all buying initiatives for the new agency.
MDC Partners CEO Miles Nadal explained the changes this way: “To provide clients with a crucially necessary new model, Martin and Steve have combined proven media expertise with a legacy-free, entrepreneurial approach to developing media technology and MDC’s heritage of disruptive creativity.” He added: “Advertising technology is rapidly leaving traditional media agencies behind, forcing clients to go elsewhere to navigate the landscape.”
To lead Assembly’s tech efforts, Michael Nicholas, the former chief strategy officer at Aegis Media's Isobar, has been tapped as “Entrepreneur in Residence.” Best known for building media technology, Nicholas has worked with brands such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Reebok and Samsung.
The new agency will use a lot of the technology developed by sibling shop Varick Media Management, which houses the firm’s media trading desk and newer tech platforms. “We don’t see advertising technology and automation as contradictory to the human creativity powering meaningful communication,” said Cass. “By optimizing a marketer’s media investments more effectively with technology, we are freeing up significant resources to create the truly breakthrough ideas that meaningfully connect brands with consumers.”
Cass, a 25-year industry veteran, was a key member of the Aegis and Carat team that reeled in the global General Motors account two years ago. He ran the account for a time before moving on to other projects.
An MDC rep indicated that all management is staying with the revamped operation. Jim Vail, the former president of RJ Palmer, Audrey Siegel, former president of TargetCast, and Steve Minichini, former president of TargetCast’s Interactive Marketing, will all serve as managing partners of the new agency. Siegel and Farella founded TargetCast a decade ago and sold a majority stake in the agency to MDC in early 2012.