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UM Extends Brand Into Canada

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Interpublic Group's Universal McCann is establishing a UM-branded agency in Canada for the first time, and has hired Peter Mears to run the shop as president.

Mears, who started this week, is based in Toronto and reports to Jacki Kelley, CEO of UM North America.

A planner by trade, Mears is a longtime colleague of UM global CEO Matt Seiler, who reached out to Mears a few months ago to gauge his interest in the new position. Mears, 38, and Seiler have known each other since their days at Omnicom's PHD, when Seiler, then U.S. president, hired him in 2005 to start the shop's communications planning practice.

Most recently, Mears has been based at PHD's worldwide headquarters in London as director of global accounts.

UM Canada will service the agency's international clients such as Microsoft, Sony, MasterCard and Chrysler. Previously, those clients were serviced out of M2U, the Canadian unit of McCann Erickson. Going forward, M2U will retain its full-service profile but focus on local clients. UM Canada, like its U.S. counterpart, will have a separate P&L and focus on media only and international clients.

Commenting on his new position, Mears said, "It's a great opportunity to bring a new banner into the marketplace, and one with a great global and U.S. heritage and current momentum. So the challenge will be to launch the brand and continue to bring the [agency's] vision to life."

Mears said the agency's value proposition of "driving to uncover consumer insights" and using those insights to help build a client's business is compelling, as is the shop's determination to transform the media owner relationship from a transaction-based equation to a more collaborative structure. 

This is Mears' second tour of duty in the Canadian market. Before joining PHD U.S., he was head of communications planning for the agency's Canadian operation. Earlier, he was a media director at PHD in the U.K.

Mears, an avid snowboarder and occasional marathoner, is eager to work again in Canada, which he said has a "good mix of smart marketers, consumers with disposable income to reach and influence, and a really well-developed communications infrastructure. It provides a great opportunity to do creative and innovative work."

See also: "Universal McCann -- U.S. Media Agency of the Year 2009"