In the latest shift in top management, Publicis Modem has named Brian Skahan evp, managing director of the digital agency’s New York office. Skahan joined Publicis Modem N.Y. from Crispin Porter + Bogusky in August, when he was named chief technology officer—responsibilities of which he will retain in his new role.
Skahan replaces Hyo Yeon who is moving to digital agency Fjord U.S.A. as president after her short stint at Publicis Modem. She joined the company last February, moving over from interactive shop Schematic, where she was general manager.
Susan Gianinno, chairman, CEO, Publicis USA, has been trying to find the right balance between incorporating Publicis Modem’s resources into integrated work produced by Publicis and maintaining the unit’s digital pure-play status and credibility.
“Coming from Crispin, Brian gets that. We need to make sure all of us make digital fundamental to everything we do, and Brian will help grow our integrated use of Modem within Publicis,” Gianinno said. “On the other hand, he’s very close to the technology and the product. He’s a digital native who will be able to get us the best digital talent we need to have credibility as a pure-play agency.”
She said his initial priority is to secure and stabilize the agency’s clients, particularly the pure-play marketers. Those clients include General Mills, where the agency works across four divisions and handles digital media and search; Subway; LG; and Cartier. (Early next year the agency ends its role as agency of record for Sanofi Pasteur, with that business moving to Digitas Health.) Among the clients the digital unit shares with its sister agency Publicis are Citi, Procter & Gamble, and L’Oréal.
The change in leadership at Publicis Modem N.Y. is the latest shift at an agency that has seen its senior ranks significantly altered this year in addition to churn among the rank and file. For his part, Skahan, who had been creative technology director at CP+B, Boulder, Colo., replaced Ed Zhang, who left the company this year.
As for Yeon, Publicis Modem created a new agency role: managing director, Publicis Modem East, with the executive assuming some of the responsibilities held by Dani Nadel, who was then Publicis Modem U.S. president. Nadel took on that larger U.S. job in September 2009, after running the New York office’s operations. A 15-year veteran of Digitas, the parent of Modem Media which became aligned with holding company sibling Publicis and renamed in 2007, left the agency in September to join Scholastic.
At the time, the company said Nadel would not be replaced and revealed a new management structure for the digital agency with its executives reporting into regional Publicis agencies. Skahan reports directly to Gianinno.