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McCann Steps Down at SMG

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NEW YORK Renetta McCann, global CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, is stepping down and will be succeeded by Laura Desmond, CEO of SMG The Americas, effective immediately, the Publicis-owned media agency network confirmed today.

McCann, a 30-year veteran of SMG, plans to take a one-year sabbatical from the company starting Jan. 1, 2009. Until that time, she will work on talent-related group-level projects and continue to report to Jack Klues, chairman of Publicis Groupe Media. Desmond, who had reported to McCann, now reports to Klues.

"I have been given the opportunity to build an incredible organization during a decade of management responsibility, but I now recognize that some family matters and personal goals have unfortunately taken a back seat during this time," McCann said in a statement.

McCann assumed the role of global CEO at SMG in 2005. Before that, she was CEO of SMG The Americas.

"It is impossible to summarize the contributions Renetta continues to make to our business and to the industry at large," Klues said. "She has earned the opportunity to step back from the global role and reassess the contributions she wants to make moving forward."

Desmond has been part of the SMG organization for more than 20 years, serving in her current post since 2006.

She orchestrated the debut of SMG Multicultural in 2007 and launched 42 Degrees at MediaVest, a separate multicultural unit. She has also pushed aggressively for stronger digital capabilities across SMG, infusing talent and tools into the organization.

To that end, Desmond also launched Pixel, a content and experience creation company in the digital space, and SMG Performance Marketing, a coalition of agency units tasked with the oversight and development of customer acquisition and retention services.

"I was not expecting to fill the global CEO role at this point in my career," said Desmond, who is 43. "But the fact that I am prepared to do it is a testament to Renetta McCann, to the remarkable talent that populates this network, and to the forward-thinking clients that have challenged and inspired me to constantly 'up my game.' I have tremendously large shoes to fill without a doubt, but I also have powerful momentum to build on."