Bielby Bolsters MNH

Lesley Bielby, former director of account planning at McKinney & Silver in Raleigh, N.C., has joined Merkley Newman Harty as its planning director, a new position.
Bielby, 36, arrives during a period of explosive growth at the New York shop, which has more than doubled its billings in the past year to about $375 million.
At MNH, Bielby is managing eight staffers and is focusing on two accounts: Mercedes-Benz and Oxford Health Plans. She reports to Douglas Atkin, a partner who heads strategic planning and continues to supervise the department. Now, Atkin said, he has more time to conduct research.
Atkin, who interviewed eight candidates for the post, said Bielby has excellent observational skills. “No one really fulfilled the criteria until I met Lesley,” he said. “[The decision] happened pretty quickly, to be honest, in the first half an hour” of their first meeting.
Prior to McKinney, where she worked on Audi and Aetna U.S. Healthcare, she had worked at four London shops, including D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles.
She said she liked doing grassroots planning at a shop that has some “brilliant” clients. “I’m thrilled to be part of an agency where planning is embraced.”
MNH’s growth is largely due to Mercedes, which moved its $125 million factory account from the former Lowe & Partners last May. Since then, it has added dealer business in major markets, such as New York and Los Angeles. Another addition: Fila, which last month selected the team of MNH and BDDP@TBWA, Paris, to handle its $60-70 million global account [Adweek, Dec. 13].