Group M's North America CEO Lesser departs

Group M's North America chief executive Brian Lesser is leaving for a new job at AT&T.

It means the WPP media agency group is losing the head of its biggest market while in the middle of a wide-ranging restructure.

Lesser had only been appointed as North America chief executive in 2015, replacing Kelly Clark, who is now global chief executive.

Clark is overseeing a global merger of Group M agencies Maxus and MEC and trying to turn digital agency Essence into a fourth global media network. 

Group M will now begin a search for Lesser's replacement, with Clark assuming Lesser’s responsibilities in the short-term.

Prior to joining Group M, Lesser was a key figure in WPP’s transition to programmatic media trading, and helped to build and run Xaxis, Group M’s programmatic buying-arm.

At AT&T, Lesser will be chief executive of a new business unit that will build an advertising and analytics platform for the data and content assets AT&T will acquire from its pending deal with Time Warner.

MEC lost AT&T to Omnicom's Hearts & Science in a major blow a year ago and the account loss is widely thought to have been a factor behind Group M's subsequent decision to merge the agency with Maxus.

A Group M spokesman said: "Brian has been a key contributor to 24/7, Xaxis and most recently Group M, and we are sorry to see him go, but wish him every success in his new role. We will immediately start the search for a replacement."

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