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WPP

WPP’s Maxus Appoints New North American CEO

Steve WPPThis morning in news that has nothing to do with the Omnicom/Publicis collapse, WPP/GroupM media agency Maxus poached a top executive from Omnicom’s PHD.

Steve Williams, who spent two years as president at PHD, will be Maxus’ new North American CEO starting June 1, replacing the retiring Louis Jones; Williams will report to global CEO Vikram Sakhuja as well as GroupM’s North American chief Kelly Clark.

In the new role, Williams will work with the New York, L.A., Chicago, Minneapolis and Toronto offices of what the press release and RECMA call “the fastest growing global media agency for the past four years.”

Before joining PHD, Williams served as CEO of the UK’s OMD Group.

No word on how much pleasure Martin Sorrell took in making this announcement.

Publicis/Omnicom: An Autopsy

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The world’s largest mega-merger is over before it began–and on the morning after the big breakdown, we have a fairly clear sense of the factors that doomed this would-be deal.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news last night with a joint statement from Messrs. Levy and Wren, who called the uncoupling conscious:

“The challenges that still remained to be overcome, in addition to the slow pace of progress, created a level of uncertainty detrimental to the interests of both groups.”

Their stories quickly and predictably diverged, however.

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E*Trade’s Media Goes to WPP Without a Review

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Looks like we have a pattern here: E*Trade has moved its media from Spark Communications to WPP…without completing a traditional review.

Before the change, Publicis/Starcom property Spark handled media for E*Trade for more than five years.

In case you don’t recall, the company also failed to complete its creative review in 2013 when it signed with Ogilvy (Grey, responsible for those baby spots that still define the brand in the minds of so many, resigned the account before the non-review). That change happened shortly after the arrival of CMO Liza Landsman, so we may have found our story’s villain or hero, depending on one’s perspective.

The account will be handled across the WPP team as part of a consolidation strategy that E*Trade believes will help it make more from less. In possibly maybe related news, MediaPost reports that E*Trade’s ad/marketing budget decreased by 22% last year.

Twist Image President Explains Sale to WPP

twist imageLast week brought news that Toronto-based digital agency Twist Image had become the latest acquisition for WPP.

Unlike most comparable deals, however, this one now brings a bit of commentary from the agency founder himself. This morning, Twist president Mitch Joel took the time to answer some questions you might have about the why, the how and the “are you a sellout?” aspects of the deal on the agency’s blog. He even managed to work in a Metallica reference.

Some key quotes on why he–or rather, they–sold:

“Truthfully, business was great…we decided that it was time to make a bigger bet.”

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WPP Acquires Digital Agency Twist Image

twist imageWPP added another established agency to its roster today by acquiring Toronto’s Twist Image.

Founded in 2000, the agency employs more than 100 and serves clients including Walmart Canada, TD Bank, the Montreal Canadiens and various other distinctly north-of-the-border entities.

Twist president Mitch Joel tells us that the move is significant because the agency will now have access to WPP’s vast data troves and its strategic partnerships with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Adobe, etc.

Twist will also continue to be led by its four partners and its existing management team. As Joel puts it, “They were eager to allow us…to continue running our business in the entrepreneurial way that we have always done.”

From the official release:

“Digital marketing is no longer an afterthought in the marketing mix. We are increasingly assuming a lead role within our client’s overall marketing, and are confident that being a part of WPP will only strengthen our position.”

WPP’s David Documents the Rise and Fall of ‘Subservient Chicken’ for Burger King

Today Burger King dropped the first spot by its new global AOR, WPP agency David.

As a faux “where are they now” covering the CP+B original’s fall from fame and return to viral advertising, it’s about as meta as you would expect.

It’s also more than a little “Rocky”: there’s an Italian trainer; there’s an instrumental montage; there’s at least one raw egg; there’s Screech as a costumed Mexican chicken fighter.

The campaign isn’t as interactive as its predecessor; while the rollout included a series of missing person-style print ads, viewers can’t tell this chicken what to do (and yes, we know the responses were pre-recorded in 2004).

The big question, given the spot’s very open-ended conclusion and the fact that BK CMO Eric Hischorn told USA Today that “[The Chicken] will stick around going forward”: where will the sequel go?

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Geometry Global Appoints New North American CEO

geometryOur tipsters were ahead of the press release today. WPP‘s New York-based “world’s largest activation network” Geometry Global–which sprang to life last summer as the activation agencies at G2, Ogilvy and JWT merged–has appointed Carl Hartman as its new North American CEO effective May 1st.

The release, which describes Hartman as “one of WPP’s top shopper marketing experts”, notes that he led the Kimberly-Clark team for more than six years before this move; he will continue to hold that role while reporting to global CEO Steve Harding.

Regarding the agency’s two current co-CEO’s:

Before beginning his stint at WPP, Hartman worked as a director at MEC and an account manager at Y&R.

Post-Grey Mike’s Hard Lemonade Shopping for Agencies

You already knew that Mike’s Hard Lemonade dropped Grey as its agency last year–but this week brings word that the company’s shopping around on a project-by-project basis.

While Mike’s changed its logo and packaging, this 15th anniversary spot by independent Chicago agency Tris3ct leads us to think it’s not looking to tweak the message too hard:

In other strategery news, Mike’s has given up on TV altogether in the interest of facilitating that digital “two-way conversation” with its target audience.

(We’re still not quite sure who the members of that target audience might be.)

The brand has yet to pledge loyalty to any single agency, so its business is up for grabs. Here’s another Tris3ct spot from last summer promoting the “Shandy” fruit beer:

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Studiocom Rebrands as VML

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Atlanta-based digital agency Studiocom, which has given Brooklynites the “Hand Washing Station” for Kleenex and celebrated Steve Jobs Day among other things over the years, has officially changed its name to VML, which doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch considering that it’s housed within the latter, WPP-owned network since 2005. Jon Cook, CEO/president of VML, says in a statement, “We have always had a great synergy and connectivity. Re-branding Studiocom to VML immediately strengthens our collective offering in North and South America. By becoming one company, we have the opportunity to accelerate growth and capability, without losing any of the unique Studiocom heritage, expertise or culture.”

As a result of the rebranding, Studiocom, which also has offices in Boston and Bogota, will add approximately 115 staffers and clients like Kimberly-Clark-owned Kleenex and Turner to the VML network. As far as leadership is concerned, Studiocom co-presidents Juan Fernando Santos and Chris Edmondson will join the VML executive leadership team with the former assuming the new role of chief experience officer and the latter taking on the executive director position for VML’s new Boston, Bogota and Atlanta offices as well as their respective clients.

Fremont’s Move to MEC Made Official

While we’re on the Digitas tip, it looks like our sources were spot-on a couple of weeks ago when they told us that Carl Fremont, who left the aforementioned agency after a dozen years of service, was headed to MEC. Truth be told, Fremont has indeed joined the WPP/GroupM media unit as its first-ever global chief digital officer. MEC global CEO Charles Courtier says in a statement, “Hiring Carl is an essential step in the continued growth of MEC globally. Carl’s mix of skills has made him one of the leading digital specialists in the industry; he is uniquely qualified to help us navigate and develop the future of our business.”

Fremont will assume his global CDO post in May and continue to work out of New York. As we’ve mentioned before, prior to his time at Digitas, the exec spent 16 years at Wunderman, leading direct media efforts for clients including AmEx, Citibank and AT&T. In his new gig at MEC, Fremont will serve on the agency’s executive committee, as one would expect considering his title.

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