The 43-year-old U.K. native will take the helm of Interpublic's flagship media unit, following a series of high-profile media account losses, including General Motors Corp.'s $3.2 billion media buying assignment, which was moved to SMG's GM Planworks unit in May. "Our business is only driven by talent," Brien told MediaPost following the announcement. "I'm sure that Universal McCann has the necessary quota of talent--what we need to do is reorganize the way we are going to play."
While conceding that UM had "lost some significant business," Brien said he was approaching his new appointment with optimism.
"I see the potential and the capability to really reposition the brand and make sure it is really poised to lead clients," he said. "I am not intimidated by the appearance at the moment that Universal McCann is losing more than it's winning."
Brien is the third Brit to run UM. Earlier this year, Robin Kent stepped down as CEO, and was replaced on a provisional basis by COO Murray Dudgeon.
Mark Rosenthal, a former MTV executive who also joined Interpublic earlier this year as chairman-CEO of media operations, said Brien was tapped in large part because of his depth of experience in marketing services, not simply his media background.
A veteran of 22 years in the advertising world, Brien had previously served as president of corporate business development at Starcom MediaVest Group, and from 1997 to 2001 was CEO of Leo Burnett in London.