MDC Partners promotes Ryan Linder to global CMO

Appointment comes amid a number of changes within the holding company.

MDC Partners has upped Ryan Linder to executive-VP and global chief marketing officer, expanding his remit beyond the U.S. market.

The six-year MDC veteran will focus on building out the company’s footprint across Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. He’s leading a team that includes: Robyn Freye, senior-VP, of strategic growth in the U.S.;, Lotta Malm Hallqvist, CMO of Europe; and Ned Russel, managing director of healthcare, among others. Freye is overseeing Linder’s previous duties in the U.S.

Linder succeeds Bob Kantor, who "mutually agreed to separate his employment" from MDC in July, according to the company’s April 2018 proxy statement. MDC also laid off a small number of individuals within its corporate team this summer.

One of Linder’s main goals as MDC’s global marketing leader, he said, is to continue bringing purpose-built capabilities and solutions to clients and "maintain being at the cutting edge of positive industry change and disruption."

He added that MDC’s founder-based agencies and underdog mentality helps the company differentiate itself in the market. "We have a ton of fight in all of us," he said.  

"In an industry that’s going through a ton of change, there’s one thing that has been incredibly consistent and unique about what we have to offer clients and that’s the model we’ve built to put our clients next to the creators, allowing them to be side-by-side with the thinkers, makers, doers and real problem solvers who are some of the most brilliant leaders and entrepreneurs of our industry," said Linder.

Globally, MDC will look to accelerate its growth in Asia-Pacific, he said, but declined to comment on the possibility of M&As in the near future. In North America, he said he may add more staffers to his team in 2019.

Carl Johnson, founding partner and global CEO of MDC shop Anomaly, told Campaign that Linder is "not the normal new business guy."

"I don’t like new business guys. I cringe. There’s something slimy and untrustworthy about them, but that’s not Ryan," said Johnson. "He listens rather than talks, he tells the truth and he actually cares about what clients want - not just what the agencies want."

Johnson added that Linder creates opportunities for MDC's agencies, but never claims false credit, which "is counter to normal new business people."

The holding company has been in the news quite often as of late. Last month, the MDC Board announced that Scott Kauffman is stepping down from his role as CEO and chairman of the company. Kauffman will remain in his role until a successor is selected. Also in September, MDC agencies KBS and Forsman & Bodenfors merged under the Forsman & Bodenfors name, creating a 700-person shop with eight offices around the world.

Earlier this month, MDC’s CP+B shuttered its Los Angeles office, a move that came after the agency closed the doors on its flagship Miami office last winter. It also followed on the heels of industry legend Alex Bogusky returning to the shop after a eight-year hiatus - an appointment which some believe could breathe much-needed new life into the agency.

MDC reported an organic revenue decline of 1.7 percent for the second quarter of 2018, a year in which Kauffman said "continues to be challenging." He also said on the earnings call that potential sales of MDC assets are an "ongoing conversation around the table."

Despite the recent ups and downs within MDC, Linder told Campaign that he’s been focused on his job for every beat of the last six years and that his dedication to the company and its partners will remain the same "no matter what changes come."

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