Gideon Spanier
Jan 10, 2020

IPG Mediabrands names global client officers

Media buyer wants to be more consultative and strategic.

IPG Mediabrands: Foster Kenny and Suarez
IPG Mediabrands: Foster Kenny and Suarez

IPG Mediabrands has handed global client roles to Caroline Foster Kenny and Andrea Suarez, as the media buying group seeks to be more consultative and strategic in its offer for clients.

Foster Kenny, chief executive of Europe, the Middle East and Africa since 2017, becomes global president, client solutions. She will continue as executive chairman of the UK and Ireland, reporting to global chief executive Daryl Lee, but will give up management duties in the rest of EMEA.

Suarez, chief executive of Latin America since 2015, becomes global president of Nestlé THRIVE – a specialist media unit that works for the chocolate-maker and has picked up business in many markets around the world.

IPG Mediabrands has built several dedicated client units, notably J3 for Johnson & Johnson and Nestlé THRIVE, and Foster Kenny is "tasked with leading the strategic development of new and innovative integrated solutions" for other clients, the company said.

She "will work in collaboration with client leaders across the network" and with other divisions of parent company Interpublic, particularly data unit Acxiom, as part of its long-standing strategy called "open architecture" – an approach that is meant to encourage collaboration between disciplines.

Centrica's intergrated account

Some advertisers are looking for greater integration. IPG Mediabrands was part of Interpublic’s pitch for Centrica’s integrated account last year when the UK energy giant combined creative, media, CRM and PR.

Lee, who took over running IPG Mediabrands in September after seven years leading UM, said: "Never has client partnership been more important in the media business than today, as we build next-generation marketing capabilities together.

"Both Caroline and Andrea have delivered outstanding business results as leaders in our EMEA and LATAM regions, due to an unwavering commitment to clients and a clear focus on being strategic business partners to them. 

"I’m proud to welcome these two new global presidents to the team and excited about what we can achieve together for our clients on a global scale."

Foster Kenny brings previous experience as she was global chief client officer at WPP’s MEC, now known as Wavemaker, before joining IPG Mediabrands.

She said: "Our clients’ needs are changing faster than ever. To be an effective, trusted partner, we must continue to evolve, providing strategic, integrated and data-enhanced solutions that will help fuel their business growth.

"We have an incredibly flexible and agile operating model that enables us to create new and innovative ways of working, so I’m extremely excited about this role and the opportunities we’re able to create for our clients together."

IPG Mediabrands has gained share in the UK since Foster Kenny took charge. She appointed new leaders for UM and sister agency Initiative and picked up business including Just Eat and LV=.

The group remains small in the UK and across EMEA compared with the other "big six" agency groups, according to data from COMvergence last year.

Its 8.2% share across EMEA varies widely from markets such as the Netherlands and Denmark, where its share is in the double digits, to the UK and Germany, where it is much lower.

IPG Mediabrands is stronger in Latin America, where it has 17.2% share and the unit won Nestlé in a regional consolidation.

Suarez said: "Over the past two years, the momentum we have achieved with Nestlé is incredible. I’m looking forward to developing our partnership further by bringing global consistency and alignment across the best of our capabilities and get to the very heart of what makes Nestlé – and its audiences – tick."

Christian Johansen, global managing partner at UM, becomes chief executive of EMEA and will be based in London, despite not running the UK. He has Norwegian and British roots, and previously worked at Ogilvy with Lee.

Sergio Kessissian, who has previously run Mexico for IPG Mediabrands, becomes chief executive of Latin America.

Lee told Campaign in an interview last year that IPG Mediabrands "must become more consultative", adding that it is "where clients are taking us" and "we can get valued better".

Success in media "doesn’t seem to be driven by size or scale" or billings as much any more, Lee maintained.

Strategic capabilities such as data, analytics and tech can "get you to parity with the strongest players in the marketplace", he said. "If you have data and analytics, you have the power to give your clients advice around growth and to drive their business."

IPG Mediabrands’ clients include Amazon, American Express, Carlsberg and Lego.

Campaign UK

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