Cheever Will Move to McCann as Executive Planning Director

LOS ANGELES Claudine Cheever is expected to join IPG’s McCann Worldgroup San Francisco as evp, executive planning director in August, capping a concerted effort to expand and integrate creative with the strategic planning disciplines, according to Matt Ross, the president of the shop.

Cheeve moves from crosstown Omnicom shop Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, where Cheever has been deputy planning director since 2003, building that agency’s department from eight to 43 people.

Ross said that his shop, though missing the leadership on top he expects from Cheever, has grown exponentially as the agency has put greater emphasis on planning as the “critical linking function” to “provide strategic insight that fuels creative, a key element of an overall strategic brain trust” that includes Universal McCann and creative. Ross said the functionality of planning is particularly crucial for the media mix of its mainstay client, Microsoft, with about 60 percent of the agency’s output now in the digital space. “Goodby’s program has been consistently excellent,” said Ross, “but I particularly admire Cheever’s Comcast work.”

Cheever, who will report to evp,gm Nils Peyron, will oversee 25 in account planning, bringing to 64 the number of people in strategy and analytics, communications planning and user-experience planning. Those departments combined are twice as large as only three years ago, Ross said. “Insight is today’s currency,” he remarked.

Cheever, 41, began in book publishing, then developed an expertise in youth marketing at independent Lambesis, San Diego, working on cosmetics and fragrances, then later at Skinmarket, where she was the client’s first vp of marketing. She had a two-year stint at WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather here on Barbie as well as Motorola and AM/PM.

At Goodby, she worked mostly on GM’s Saturn before concentrating on Doritos and on Comcast work. Her insight on Saturn was that the customer experience positioning that had worked earlier in the brand’s history was no longer unique enough, and that the agency had to start “talking more about the cars.” On Comcast, “the expensive provider in a commodity category,” she helped reposition the cable giant as friendlier and unashamed to be seen as a premium. Employing “virtual ethnography” on Doritos mostly young, male snackers, she found that Doritos’ consumption was closely linked to other behavior, such as “playing video games and working on a MySpace page.”

‘I’m excited about the chance to help merge the media into a holistic planning department,” Cheever said. “I’m impressed with their scale and capability, and I like the momentum.”