Interpublic Group shook up the management ranks at two of its biggest units today, shifting Mediabrands CEO Daryl Lee to Global CEO McCann Worldgroup, where he succeeds Bill Kolb, who remains chairman. Replacing Lee at Mediabrands is UM CEO Eileen Kiernan.
This isn’t the first time the holding company has taken its top media executive and plopped him in the driver’s seat of its flagship creative agency network. Back in 2010, then Mediabrands chief Nick Brien (now CEO at Amobee) shifted to the same post that Lee was named to today.
Brien’s tenure at the agency was relatively short and bumpy. Back then McCann was perceived as an old school agency stuck in its ways and in need of a change agent and disruptor. Brien embraces change and knows how to disrupt.
McCann wasn’t changing fast enough and there was a lot of internal resistance to Brien’s leadership. A little over two years later he was replaced by Harris Diamond. But he went on to do great things at Hearst and then Dentsu Americas.
McCann is in a better place now than it was a decade ago. As IPG CEO Philippe Krakowsky noted on a second quarter earnings call today, the agency is winning significant new pieces of business (Prudential Financial being one recent example) and being recognized for its creative work. At Cannes last month it won a Grand Prix for work related to global food shortages, on behalf of the Swedish Food Federation. And McCann Health was runner-up in the Health Network of the Year category, behind sibling FCB Health.
But there’s clearly room for improvement. McCann is part of IPG’s Integrated Advertising & Creativity Led Solutions segment, which had 8.5% organic growth in Q2. Leading the charge, growth-wise, were IPG Health and FCB, Krakowsky said. No mention of McCann’s contribution.
And no doubt part of Lee’s remit is to drive growth at the agency. And he has one advantage that Brien didn’t—he served at McCann earlier as MWG’s Global Chief Strategy and Integration Officer.
So going in, he already knows many of the people there, including the leadership team and many of its clients as well.
Whether that makes a difference or not, only time will tell.