Brent Nelsen Named Global Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer at Edelman

By Kyle O'Brien 

Communications and marketing agency Edelman has named Brent Nelsen global chief innovation and strategy officer and co-chair of the Edelman Trust Institute, starting his position January 3. Nelsen will lead Edelman’s global strategic network and help lead the development and expansion of the recently launched Trust Institute.

Nelson will report to Christoph Becker, global chair of integration, and be based in Toronto. As global head of innovation and strategy, Nelsen will be responsible for incorporating “trust science” into Edelman’s offering.

“Edelman is on the fast track to transform global communications and the marketing world and I want to help accelerate that momentum with greater strategic power. At the end day, planning has one function and that’s to make strategy more creative and creative more strategic, which is what I will work towards not only with the talented planning team, but also the amazing talent across Edelman at large,” Nelson told Adweek.


Nelsen joins Edelman from Publicis Communications, where he was most recently chief strategy officer of North America. There he worked across all of the network’s creative agencies, served as an executive lead for Publicis Groupe Canada and worked on key clients including T-Mobile and the Canadian Tire Corporation.

Prior to Publicis Communications, Nelsen spent more than a decade at Leo Burnett, where he served as chief strategy officer of Leo Burnett Canada. He also worked at DDB Worldwide, McCann Worldgroup and Cossette Communication Marketing.

Building on a foundation of trust

As co-chair of the Trust Institute, Nelsen will direct the evolution of Edelman’s suite of trust advisory and data service offerings, including the Edelman Trust Barometer. Looking to build on its more than two decades of measuring and reporting on institutional trust, Edelman debuted the Trust Institute in June. Since then, the institute has launched studies on brand trust, the return to work and climate change. It has also created the Edelman Trust Institute Summer Series, exclusive virtual events for clients, thought leaders and media experts.

“Edelman believes that trust drives growth. And being involved in the institute means ensuring that we understand not only what the drivers of trust across all institutions, categories, cultures and groups of people are, but also what implications they have on consumer behaviors and perceptions of brands that are either going to accelerate or impede their business and their social license to operate,” said Nelsen.

“Brent’s background in strategy development makes him uniquely qualified to help clients develop and quickly scale that process,” Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, said in a statement.

Nelson said he hopes to make meaningful and rewarding change at Edelman and energize a team that is “obsessed with the marriage of art and science, that understands the need to humanize data and to tell stories that connect powerfully and innately with people in ways that supersede the mediums themselves.”

With the arrival of Nelson, Lee Maicon will take the role of head of strategic growth to reinforce the agency’s strategic offering.