"There are a lot of new business areas we're looking at," says Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer at Mediaedge:cia, who plays an active role in GroupM management. "He can do some legwork for us."
Mandel, who has been chairman of MediaCom Worldwide, will report to GroupM CEO Irwin Gotlieb. Dene Callas, MediaCom's CEO, continues in that role, since a replacement for Mandel is not expected.
MediaCom is in the process of informing clients of Mandel's departure, although he is expected to continue assisting the agency on some client-relations matters. Mandel has been with MediaCom and its predecessor, Grey Advertising's media arm, for more than 30 years. He enjoys tight relationships with a slew of top marketing and C-suite executives on the client side.
Reached at MediaCom yesterday, Mandel declined comment--an unusual response from the voluble executive, whose bonhomie apparently fueled his successful client relationships and also endeared him to the media. No shrinking violet, Mandel was pleasantly provocative in interviews, especially when tweaking the networks on the other side of the negotiating table.
A call to a WPP Group representative was not immediately returned.
GroupM functions as a holding company within a holding company, overseeing the worldwide media operations for WPP Group agencies MindShare, Mediaedge:cia, MediaCom, and Maxus. Media investment management continues to be a significant revenue driver for WPP--which, in its most recent financial-performance release, said it generates "the strongest growth of all our communications services businesses" along with direct, Internet/interactive, and health care.
Mandel has essentially overseen Grey and then MediaCom's national broadcast buying operations since 1979--serving as senior vice president/director of national broadcast at Grey, and later, co-CEO of MediaCom. The door opened for Mandel's move to GroupM last year with WPP's purchase of Grey Global Group, which included MediaCom, its standalone media unit since 1997.
Mandel's impending departure comes as MediaCom adds a new head of its media-buying operations. Former GM Mediaworks executive John Miles is the new director of implementation that covers broadcast, print, and other media. Miles will report to Callas.