But in an interview with MediaDailyNews, Cass said his conversations to recruit Hess began long before the OMD restructuring began. "You don't recruit someone of the caliber of Mike Hess overnight. We've been talking about this for some time," Cass confirmed, adding that his appointment is something of a coup for Carat.
"We've had a number of people in the research role, but we never actually put anyone of Joanne's stature back in that role, and Mike is of that stature," he said.
Hess' new title is executive vice president-research, marketing science and consumer insight for Carat, but he is the de facto research czar in a media services organization that has always prided itself and premised its positioning in the marketplace on its research chops. When U.K.-based Aegis Group wanted to open a U.S. outpost for a primarily European-based Carat in the mid-1990s one of their first acquisitions was a research company--marketing mix modeling firm MMA--and one of the first hires they made was Burke, who actually preceded the agency's first U.S. CEO, David Verklin (now head of Canoe Ventures).
"When I took over this job, I made it very clear that I considered our research, analytics and insights team to be overstretched," Cass wrote in the memo to the Carat staff, adding, "I think I said they performed 'daily miracles' with the team they had! I also said it is the lifeblood of what our agency stands for... 'Consumer centricity.'"
Hess officially joins Carat on Feb. 9th.