The West Coast Wins Deutsch’s Succession Race

L.A. execs take over North America roles

In Deutsch's succession race, the West has won. The Interpublic agency named Mike Sheldon—Deutsch L.A.'s chief—as CEO, Deutsch North America, with oversight of the L.A. and N.Y. offices.

The company announced a series of promotions that show the Marina del Rey, Calif., office has outstripped the New York operations in business development and caliber of work. Notably, the West Coast team snagged major accounts, from Sprint to Nintendo, and beefed up digital operations.

Sheldon will now report to Linda Sawyer, who becomes chairman, succeeding Donny Deutsch. Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch N.Y., continues in that role while Deutsch L.A.'s chief operating officer, Kim Getty, has become president of that office.

The agency also made these changes:

  • Winston Binch, former chief digital officer of Deutsch L.A., becomes chief digital officer, Deutsch North America. L.A. has built a team of 190 digital specialists in four years, and digital now drives 35 percent of the office's revenue.
  • Pete Favat, former chief creative officer in L.A., is now CCO of Deutsch North America.
  • Jeff White, Deutsch L.A.'s director of business development, is now evp, CMO, Deutsch North America. Under White's leadership over the past year the agency has been awarded assignments from Sprint, Pizza Hut, HTC, Nintendo, Vivint and Georgia-Pacific.

The L.A. office has come off a year of explosive growth, having added Pizza Hut's creative account last summer and lead creative responsibilities for Sprint late last year. The Sprint account alone represents some $30 million in annual revenue. Once the office staffs up for Sprint, it will have about 630 employees, making it one of the largest players on the West Coast. The office opened in 1997, under Sheldon, with just seven staffers.

In planning for this transition, outgoing North America CEO Sawyer said, "Mike [Sheldon] is the right person for the next chapter of Deutsch. In his 17-year run, he has built strong client relationships, has an innate ability to attract top-tier talent and has built a world-class integrated agency. Under his leadership, the L.A. office has grown from a handful of people to what is now the largest agency on the West Coast."

Donny Deutsch, who has been a non-active chairman for the past several years, becomes chairman emeritus. He'll end his relationship with the agency at the end of March as he begins work on his recently announced new USA Network show.