Edelman poaches McCann's Lee Maicon to lead global strategy

"This really completes the building of what we hope is the communications firm of the future..."

Over the last 18 months, independent communications agency Edelman has been scooping up top-level talent across adland to further flesh out its leadership team, with hires like Leo Burnett’s Judy John as its first global chief creative officer; Ogilvy’s Thomas Crampton as global chair of the digital practice; and Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis in the new role of global data and analytics leader. 

Now, Edelman - which was founded as a traditional PR firm but has evolved over the years to become a full-service shop - has hired McCann North America’s Lee Maicon as its first global chief innovation and strategy officer. 

"This really completes the building of what we hope is the communications firm of the future based on earned, reminaged creative," said Richard Edelman, CEO of the eponymous agency.

Maicon, who will report to John and officially take on the role in early April, most recently served as CSO for North America at McCann. 

"We want to personally thank Lee for his contributions over the past two years and hope all of you will join us in wishing Lee much personal success," wrote McCann Worldgroup Global Chief Strategy Officer Suzanne Powers and McCann North America President Devika Bulchandani in a note to staff.

The email added: "Going forward, our plan is to more seamlessly tap into our strategic community across our offices in North America, supported by the global SLC (Strategic Leadership Community), the details of which will come shortly."

In addition to overseeing Edelman’s strategic network across 60-plus offices worldwide, Maicon will work closely with John to solve clients’ business problems. 

"Being a CCO, it’s so important to work with a CSO really closely to solve business problems through creativity - and it’s not about handing off the baton, but working together to create something seamlessly," said John.

Maicon, who has worked mainly at traditional advertising and digital agencies throughout his career, told Campaign US that Edelman’s "amazing heritage with clients" is one of the reasons he was attracted to the role.

"Yes, the heritage is in earned [media] -  and we really have an opportunity to supercharge that for the future because the toolkit is diverse and unique at Edelman and clients are really looking for different business solutions," he added. Maicon also said he’s excited to use his expertise on a global scale. 

Edelman said that Maicon and John will work with brands to solve problems by creating trustworthy content that can even start movements, furthering the agency’s mission of being the "House of Trust" for the industry. 

But, will Maicon miss those big, splashy TV ads and productions from the likes of McCann? "I don’t think there’s anything to be missed," he said. "The opportunity here is to see all of the touchpoints in the ecosystem and take advantage of Edelman’s heritage in earned media."

One of Maicon’s initial goals is to get to know Edelman’s clients and their business challenges, and how he can help them build trust and improve on society in relevant ways. 

"I’m so glad that Lee, Judy, Yannis and others have bought into the revolution. The Edelman core team members who have been here are so psyched to have Lee join because we need that level of rigor and data and substance at the agency," said Edelman.

Prior to McCann, Maicon worked at 360i for eight years, where he eventually became the shop’s first CSO. He also previously worked at WPP’s Berlin Cameron and Grey, independent shop StrawberryFrog, and media companies Univision and StarMedia Networks.

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