Kent Is Out as CEO of UM

LOS ANGELES Universal McCann’s Robin Kent has been replaced as worldwide CEO of the Interpublic Group media network on an interim basis by COO Murray Dudgeon, the company said.

The change comes as Universal McCann gears up to defend nearly $1.7 billion in combined billings in reviews being staged by current clients General Motors and L’Oreal.

In the GM pitch, UM (whose LCI unit handles GM dealer business) and Warren, Mich.-based sibling GM Mediaworks are competing against Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest in Chicago.

In the $675 million L’Oreal pitch, UM is up against another Publicis network, ZenithOptimedia. However, UM won Intel’s $300 million global media business last week as part of the McCann Erickson WorldGroup team [Adweek Online, March 7].

Said McCann Erickson WorldGroup CEO John Dooner in a statement: “Robin will work with me on special Interpublic media projects. Murray will oversee UM’s operations and ensure continued media excellence.” UM declined further comment, but sources said a permanent replacement for Kent is being sought.

Kent had been with UM since 1996, holding senior regional positions in Europe before moving to New York in 2002 as chairman, CEO. Dudgeon joined McCann in 1979 and has held senior posts in both London and New York.

Last year, the embattled network lost more than $400 million in the U.S. alone when Nestle consolidated its $1.5 billion global media account after a roster review with WPP Group’s MindShare and Publicis Groupe’s ZenithOptimedia. And it was incumbent buyer on the $300 million Coca-Cola consolidation won by Publicis’ MediaVest.

The agency did bounce back a bit last week, however, picking up media chores on Intel’s $300 million global account following a review.

UM had $15 billion in overall global billings last year and about $9.2 billion in U.S. billings.