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Y&R's Digital Chief Exits to Launch Shop

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Tarik Sedky, chief digital officer at Young & Rubicam since 2007, has left the WPP Group shop to launch an agency that will market the environmental and corporate responsibility efforts of clients.

Sedky (pictured), 44, will be president of the startup, known as Mother Nature & Partners. It opens with eight staffers, offices in New York and Atlanta and one client, which Sedky declined to identify.

The creative firm will offer a mix of traditional and digital advertising, public relations and social media strategies. Other leaders include chairman and creative chief Joel Babbit, head of public relations Dan Beeson and Hope Dlugozima, who'll steer social media efforts.

Babbit, Beeson and Dlugozima also have roles with the agency's parent company: the Mother Nature Network, a news and opinion Web site that launched in January 2009. The agency will operate as a subsidiary of the Atlanta-based network, which Babbit runs as CEO.

"There are a large number of companies making a positive difference in the communities they service, including employees who are contributing in significant ways," said Babbit, in a statement. "However, there is a great deal of confusion about the best way to communicate these accomplishments. We believe there is significant demand for an agency that offers this specialized expertise."

Sedky told Adweek "it's a great time to start an agency" because economic upheaval "creates pockets of opportunity. And you can get into client relationships that big agencies and incumbents" can't and "where there's real need."

The move marks the end of his second tour at Y&R, where he also worked from 1995 until 2000. Before rejoining the agency in May 2007, Sedky was managing director of client services at Omnicom Group's Atmosphere BBDO. He also has worked on the client side, as head of new media at Accenture.

As chief digital officer at Y&R, Sedky focused on bolstering the shop's online capabilities and helped forge an alliance with sister digital agency VML. The alliance, known as VML/Y&R, added ballast to Y&R's digital offering and provided a platform for domestic player VML to expand globally.

Y&R is now "integrating further" with VML and does not intend to fill Sedky's role, said Y&R worldwide CEO Hamish McLennan.