MediaCom has shaken up its senior leadership with a trio of linked promotions at the global, EMEA and UK levels.
Nick Lawson becomes global chief operating officer, Josh Krichefski replaces him as EMEA chief executive, while Kate Rowlinson succeeds Krichefski as UK chief executive.
Stephen Allan, global chairman and chief executive of MediaCom, said the internal promotions showed the WPP media agency is "unusually different" from most rival networks because it has "homegrown" many of its senior leaders and offered them career progression.
"Nick, Josh and Kate’s track records in delivering truly innovative work are unparalleled and I am in no doubt they are the best people to lead the MediaCom network into its next exciting chapter," Allan said.
All three, who will start their new jobs in September, are long-serving MediaCom staff.
Lawson has worked at MediaCom and its predecessor The Media Business since 1991 and has been EMEA chief executive since 2008.
Krichefski started in 2011 and spent time as chief operating officer in EMEA, before becoming UK chief executive of MediaCom, which is Britain’s biggest media agency, in 2016.
Rowlinson has also been at MediaCom for eight years, most recently as the London-based managing director of worldwide hubs, after spending three years at The Media Business in the UK in the 1990s.
Lawson fills a vacancy left by Toby Jenner, who was named global chief executive of sister agency Wavemaker last week.
Both Lawson and Krichefski will report to Allan. Rowlinson will report to Krichefski.
MediaCom has 8,000 staff, operates in more than 100 countries and manages $13.5bn of media spend.
It has had a strong run since losing Volkswagen Group’s global account in 2016, fighting back to win Adidas and Peugeot and Citroën owner Groupe PSA, expand its brief with Mars and Sky, and defend Shell.
The need to be 'faster and better'
Lawson said he has done "pretty much every job in MediaCom", but his EMEA role was "probably my favourite".
He is "proud" of how he helped to turn MediaCom from a "quite disparate" collection of local markets into a global network.
"What all media [agency] companies are wrestling with now for clients – being faster and better – requires real operational efficiency, and that’s why I’m attracted to this role" as global chief operating officer, he said.
Lawson will retain a second role as head of MediaCom’s global client practice and will oversee marketing and new business.
Bringing UK best practice to EMEA
Krichefski said he was looking forward to "setting the same standard all over the EMEA region" as MediaCom has done in the UK. He will be in charge of 4,400 staff in 37 offices.
He has had a good new-business record in the UK, winning Centrica, Lloyds Banking Group and Paddy Power Betfair, and defending Sky and Coca-Cola. Krichefski has also pushed Mental Health Allies, an initiative to support staff with mental-health concerns.
MediaCom UK won Agency of the Year at Campaign’s Media Week Awards and the Media Grand Prix for Tesco’s "Food love stories" at Cannes Lions last year.
"I will stay close to Kate and the UK team as it is the jewel in our crown," Krichefski said, adding that Rowlinson will be a "brilliant" successor.
UK can learn from other markets
Rowlinson has held mostly EMEA and global roles at MediaCom since 2011, rather than being part of the UK management team, but she previously spent seven years at Carat UK.
Allan said her broad experience, which he described as "UK plus", was important.
Rowlinson said she inherits a UK business "in really great shape", with 1,250 staff in five offices, including a significant operation in Manchester.
She hopes to import ideas and thinking from across MediaCom’s global network, noting China was highly advanced in mobile commerce and the Nordics region is a leader in programmatic data planning.
"One of the things that global clients want is the reapplication of great work from other markets and it’s definitely something I can bring to the UK," Rowlinson said, adding: "I have a real passion for new business and pitching."
Allan has spent 37 years at MediaCom, almost since its inception, and said the agency’s stable leadership has helped to drive growth.
"We have an ethos and a system where we have homegrown our talent all the way through the organisation," he said. "We are unusually different from many agencies that maybe have a shorter tenure with management that come and go.
"We have got legions of people that have been with the agency for 15, 20, 25 years. They see the ability to grow and prosper through their careers."
While some sceptics warn media agencies are facing major structural challenges as some clients demand more transparency and bring services in-house or turn to management consultants, Allan remains optimistic about MediaCom.
"The speed of change is accelerating," he admitted. "We’re on the tips of our toes the whole time with new competitors that didn’t exist five years ago.
"But as long as we continue to make changes and to evolve and remain contemporary and relevant for our clients, I see no reason why we can’t continue to grow."