Nick Brien, who had been leading Burnett's London operations, will join SMG as president of U.S. corporate development, a new position. Brien will report to SMG chief executive Jack Klues.
Klues said he needed someone who could "diversify" SMG's offerings, "particularly in the U.S."
"He started to move that agency beyond flat [print] work and television commercials," Klues said. "That kind of vision and leadership to make it happen is exactly what we need."
After founding his own media company, Brien joined Burnett's London office as an executive media director in 1992. He was named managing director of the office in 1996 and CEO in 1997.
Brien's primary task will be to oversee new business development for Starcom and MediaVest operations in the U.S., with a focus on broadening the services offered by those two units, Klues said.
"We believe that for us to continue the tremendous growth we've enjoyed in the U.S. over the past couple of years, we need to pursue not only new business but also diversification of our offerings," Klues said.
Initially, Brien will focus on helping MediaVest's new management teams "adjust" to their positions, fulfilling a "promise" Klues and former chief operating officer Bob Brennan made to MediaVest U.S. CEO Donna Salvatore when she took the job in September, Klues said.
"They're full of aptitude, but new to the titles," Klues said of MediaVest's management team. "Nick is not going there to breach a talent or leader-ship gap."
Brien's new position is intended to pick up some of the duties that had been handled by SMG COO Bob Brennan, who on Jan. 1 becomes president of Leo Burnett Worldwide. Kevin Malloy will continue his duties as SMG's executive vice president of international operations. Brien will not be involved with GM Planworks, which handles media planning for General Motors' $2.3 billion account.
Klues said he is not actively searching for a new COO, and did not know when, or if, he would.
"How the business evolves and how client needs change is going to constitute how we organize ourselves in future years," he said.