An agency is only as good as its people, as the saying could go. For that reason, new hires can be a critical change in an agency’s structure. This is particularly true of new executives that have a serious impact on an agency’s direction.
In the past year, several agencies have made some important new hires that provide insight into the direction the industry is heading as a whole. Here are five that you should keep an eye on:
Omnicom recently tapped WPP’s Andy Zonfrillo to take over as CEO of global trading. The position has been vacant since late 2012, when Zonfrillo’s predecessor, Johan Boserup, left – ironically – for Zonfrillo’s previous employer, GroupM.
Zonfrillo comes into his new post after spending over 10 years at WPP. The global trading position isn’t new at Omnicom, but it will expand with Zonfrillo’s appointment. Omnicom wants to dig deeper into programmatic buying and ad tech capabilities. Prior to Zonfrillo’s hiring, it made several moves to amp up its global media trading and buying structure by creating the Omnicom Media Group and naming Barry Cupples, former CEO of Asia Pacific region, as CEO of global investment. A few months later, Ominicom also promoted President of Integrated Communications John Swift to CEO of North American investment. As CEO of global trading, Zonfrillo will help round out the agency’s efforts.
While Edelman is famous for being strictly a public relations firm, it is increasingly finding demand for paid media services – so much so that last fall, the agency hired Chris Paul into the newly created position of head of global paid media.
The increasing amount of demand from clients for paid work was happening “organically,” Kevin King, global chair of Edelman's digital practice group, told AdAge. Most of the paid work revolves around social media campaigns and clients’ social communities. The firm does have plans to move into real-time buying, but isn’t necessarily looking to replicate media agencies’ real-time bidding capabilities or form a full-service trading desk.
Shortly after Marissa Mayer took her post at Yahoo a year and a half ago, she ousted Michael Barrett from his post as chief revenue office in favor of Henrique de Castro – an appointment that ended with de Castro’s ouster earlier this month.
Although some thought Barrett would stay out of the game, he has recently accepted a position as CEO of mobile ad company Millennial Media. As to why he continues to take new posts in the mobile ad space, Barrett told AdAge, "I guess if there was no innovation, if there was no seismic changes occurring every several years, maybe it would be time to watch daytime TV. Right now, it's way too exciting and the opportunities are still too great." That sentiment underscores the huge changes that mobile ads and ad tech are experiencing right now.
Critical Mass is one of the many shops going through changes amid the Publicis-Omnicom merger. Most recently, the agency hired Huge’s Conor Brady as its creative chief and Chris Hayes as chief marketing executive. The duo will help expand operations in Canadian firm Critical Mass’ New York office, increasing the staff from 15 to 50 by the end of the year. Alongside the hiring of Hayes and Brady is the merger of the shop’s London operations with Omnicom digital shop Agency Republic.
While an agency spokeswoman told AdAge that the expansion of the agency into New York and London wasn’t related to the Publicis-Omnicom merger, the changes do seem to mimic the global expansions of many shops. The Publicis-Omnicom merger is the biggest agency merger to date, so it makes sense that changes – even if not directly attributed to the merger – are going to occur simultaneously.
Last spring, digital marketing agency 360i created a new position for agency veteran Amy Vickers, “senior vice president of experiences.”
In her new role, Vickers oversees the Experience Design, Technology and Content Studio disciplines at 360i. The agency created the position because it wanted to continue to expand its offerings as a full-service agency. Its focus on tackling all segments of the increasingly fragmented industry of digital marketing is reflective of larger agency trends. After all, the worlds of digital and mobile are changing so fast that agencies have to create new positions and plans just to keep up.
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