McCann New York made a series of leadership appointments and promotions in its strategy and creative departments, the agency said on Wednesday.
Emily Portnoy was promoted from EVP, head of brand strategy to chief strategy officer of McCann New York. She takes on the position previously held by Erica Yahr, who becomes global executive strategy director at McCann.
Portnoy brings 20 years of experience to the role, the past three and a half of which she has worked alongside Yahr to reshape McCann’s strategy department. The pair restructured and “de-siloed” the organization by integrating brand and social strategists with the broader strategy team. Strategists now sit in “pods” with creatives who work on the same client.
“We’re moving toward a major/minor approach so people can learn from each other,” Portnoy said. “We’ve gotten to some better ideas faster and more meaningfully when we work closer together.”
Portnoy sees opportunities to reshape how McCann approaches comms and channel planning by incorporating more context and real-time data into plans, versus relying on assumptive, outdated and linear planning frameworks still used today.
“We are no longer living in a place where you can expect a consumer to follow you along a linear journey. With continuing disruption, many times you can’t even plan two weeks ahead,” she said, referencing the many fits and starts COVID-19 variants have thrown into well-laid comms plans in the past two years.
“How do we take the business challenge, the idea at hand and the behaviors we’re seeing in each channel to design a much more cohesive and impact[ful strategy]?”
As Portnoy takes over Yahr’s duties in the New York office, Yahr will work closely across McCann globally, as well as parent McCann Worldgroup and IPG, to bring in capabilities to enhance the agency’s strategic offering, from data unit Acxiom to IPG Mediabrands. She will report to McCann global chief strategy officer Harjot Singh.
Additionally, McCann has welcomed back Daniela Vojta and Susan Young as global executive creative directors overseeing its long-held Mastercard account. Both were creative directors together at the agency from 2013 to 2018 and return after four years at BBDO. They will report to McCann New York co-chief creative officers Pierre Lipton and Shayne Millington.
Leadership changes in McCann’s New York office come two years after longtime CEO Harris Diamond retired as CEO of McCann Worldgroup and Bill Kolb took over his role, reshaping the agency’s top brass in North America.
McCann North America CEO Devika Bulchandani left for a global role at Ogilvy in November 2020, and Kolb brought on Chris Macdonald as chairman and CEO and Harjot Singh as chief strategy officer of its flagship creative agency in early 2021.
This September, McCann North America president Alex Lubar left to become global president and chief operating officer of DDB Worldwide.
“At the end of the day, we are at a new chapter, as many agencies are,” Portnoy said. “But genuinely, there is such a great center of energy.”