Head of Agency/Media 2019: Lynn Lewis, UM

In the span of one year, Lynn Lewis, the chief executive officer for U.S. operations at media giant UM has accomplished a lot at an agency already known for making a big impact.

Segueing from running UM’s New York City office, in late 2018 she took on the leadership role for all 10 of UM’s offices across the United States, encompassing more than 1,300 employees. 

As for what those employees were doing, a string of account wins in 2019 kept the agency working at a steady clip. UM brought in CVS-Aetna, an estimated $159 million U.S. media account, and Levi’s, after ten years at OMD. Other wins included TGI Friday’s, Energizer, Armor All, Estee Lauder and the global, professional services company, Avanade.

Following an already strong 2018, she bumped up new business agency year-over-year revenue by 15 percent in 2019.

One of Campaign’s category judges noted, "Impressive accomplishments achieved in a short period of leadership. Business results + industry advancement and training/talent connected."

One of UM’s cleverest campaigns of 2019 was for Frank’s Red Hot. It used Twitter to ride the Super Bowl ad derby. The teams contacted likely Super Bowl advertisers and asked them if Frank’s Red Hot could douse their candy and beverages, sit in their cars and smear khaki pants, alongside the slogan, "You can put that #$% on everything."  

Most said yes, and Frank’s was all over Twitter during the big game, tagging advertisers with catchy viral videos. The media budget was zero dollars for 267 million impressions.

The people part of running such a large agency also played a large part in Lewis receiving this award. As another judge said: "UM is enormous, but Lynn seems to make sure it feels like a village by focusing everyone on singular goals year over year."

Each year, UM managers select a mantra to rally the team. Lewis selected "Year of Acceleration" to mark 2019. 

She identified four key areas for acceleration, including investing in people and planning for the longer term. A couple programs show how she goes big.  

Unity 20/40 would have UM employee demographics in 2020 resemble what the projected US demographics will be in 2040.

Another in-house program, UM University, puts all educational resources, from on-the-spot employee training to career development, in one hub. 

Outside of UM, Lewis supports groups that raise diversity and inclusion. Her ongoing connection to She Runs It has her mentoring young professionals. She’s also made sure all employees of UM parent IPG have access to She Runs It membership and programming.  

As she wrote in a byline article appearing in Campaign US: "It’s not about meeting quotas, it’s about bringing in diverse thinking, diverse backgrounds, and diverse skills." 

The column captured her bold bold approach to management that finds success even when lofty goals are not reached. She had pledged to double the number of women of color at UM across every level in a quick timespan. 

While she did not double her numbers, UM did show double-digit gains in hiring women of color. That’s a win by any measure.