Universal McCann Plucks Organic's Quentin George To Lead Digital Charge

Calling it the most exciting time to get in on the reinvention of the traditional agency model, Quentin George has jumped to Universal McCann as global director of digital strategy and marketing innovation from his post as chief of corporate development for digital agency Organic.

It's the latest move by a Madison Avenue agency to bring in a senior executive to help craft digital strategies to meet ever-growing client demand.

Four regional digital leads will report in to George, who starts his new job at the 72-office, 2,800-employee agency next Monday. His charge is to drive strategy globally, spend more time in front of clients on their strategies, and work with Bant Breen, president of parent IPG's Futures Marketing Group, to leverage all IPG capabilities for clients. Earlier this month, IPG announced the acquisition of search marketing specialist agency Reprise Media.

As a designated change agent, George also has the goal to get the media agency to infuse digital into all it does. But he intends to adopt a listen and learn stance.

"I think there are some remarkably smart people at Universal McCann," he said. "There's danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I have no preconceived notion of what the agency is and isn't capable of. There is fertile ground to build on."

George's appointment is just the latest move by a Madison Avenue shop to bring in more digital firepower at the executive level. WPP Group's Ogilvy North America named Jean-Phillippe Maheu its chief digital officer. His background included senior roles at the original Razorfish and Direct Revenue.

At Universal McCann, George, 37, will report to CEO Nick Brien, based out of the New York office. He is moving from San Francisco, where he built a 15-year career at pureplay specialist firms. He was vice president of client service for aQuantive's Avenue A|Razorfish before joining Organic.

"As we work to decode the future of the digital marketplace and help our clients navigate the complexities of the new communications realities, Quentin's leadership experience and unique understanding of the digital conversation, that is transforming the marketing industry, make him a crucial addition to the network," Brien said.

What was particularly compelling about Universal McCann, George said, is that it is a media agency. Clients include Coca-Cola and Intel.

"They are the ones who are responding to clients and understand what the changing landscape will look like," he said. "'I've always been involved in pure play agencies, but if you look at client demand, in the end, digital marketing has to integrate, and these agencies will always be better equipped to do that."

This is the second senior executive loss for Organic in the past year. Last summer, Organic's chief creative officer Colleen DeCourcy departed to join JWT as its chief experience officer.

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