Initiative Revamps Key Research Unit

NEW YORK Interpublic Group’s Initiative has reorganized a key research department into two separate units: Consumer Insight and Futures and Technology.

As a result, evp David Ernst, who ran the precursor operation for 10 years, is leaving the agency.

The departure was a “mutual” decision, according to a memo from Initiative North America CEO Richard Beaven to employees that outlined the changes.

Beaven was not available for comment on his memo, a copy of which was obtained by Adweek.

The reorganization is a prelude to a “new approach to planning, details of which will be shared very soon,” Beaven wrote. Sources said the agency is preparing a broader relaunch of its brand in the fall.

An Initiative representative said, “We are looking to build our resources in these areas and are actively recruiting to do so.” The rep declined to comment on the upcoming brand relaunch.

“Change is never easy, and in this case is made harder by our having to say farewell to a long-standing colleague,” Beaven stated in his memo. That said, he added that the change “is an important one, if we are to maintain and build Initiative’s level of competitiveness in the increasingly complex and demanding consumer and media landscape.”

The new Consumer Insight research practice will service clients across the agency’s New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta offices. It will be housed within the Insight, Strategy and Planning group, led by Rob FitzGerald, who joined Initiative’s North American operations last August as evp, managing director, East Coast. FitzGerald, based in New York has worked closely with Beaven over the past year to develop Initiative’s new planning approach.

Heading up the new Futures and Technology unit will be New York-based Janice Finkel-Green, most recently evp, broadcast strategy. It’s a critical area, Beaven said in his memo, indicating that Finkel-Green will now report to him.

“One of the most challenging but crucial keys to success in our business is keeping up with the rapid changes occurring at every level of society and the business world,” wrote Beaven. “The role of Futures and Technology is to help us all use the proper and most up-to-date tools to foster creativity and increase productivity.”