McKinney Names New CSO, New York Managing Director

By Patrick Coffee 

Cheil’s McKinney announced a couple of changes in its New York and Durham-based leadership teams today: Walt Barron has been promoted to chief strategy officer and Kerry Fitzmaurice has been chosen to manage the New York office.

Barron, who joined McKinney as an account planner in 2005, has been with the agency for just over a decade barring a quick detour to New Orleans to work at Peter Mayer (the press release tells us that “McKinney lured him back in 2012”).

He became SVP/head of planning later that year, helping the Cheil shop win ESPN SEC Network and score more business with Samsung.

Today Barron tells Adweek that his singular focus will be to “Serve creativity” by “putting people at the core of our strategy,” and he reemphasizes this fact in his own bio, writing:

“I joined and then re-joined McKinney for the same reason I made the switch from journalism to advertising 15 years ago: to work with smart, creative people to make smart, creative work. Not the best strategy work, but the best creative work. Because I believe strategy is only as good as the creative it may guide or inspire.”

wbarron_2015_casual_squareHe will now divide his time between the New York and Durham, North Carolina offices and will work directly with CCO Jonathan Cude, who calls him “the most creatively oriented strategist in the business.”

Kerry Fitzmaurice also joins McKinney after a stint as global CMO at KBS and a period working as a consultant for New York-area agencies. (IPG Mediacom/Ogilvy vet Jennifer Hohman replaced her at KBS this spring five months after her departure.)

Fitzmaurice–who was director of earned media at 72andSunny for nearly three years after the agency purchased her PR firm–took an unusual route to the agency exec world, beginning her career at the EPA where she helped implement President George H.W. Bush’s Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 before moving into business consultancy and public relations.

Newly-promoted chairman/CEO Brad Brinegar says she was “the unanimous choice” of agency leadership, and Fitzmaurice positions her new position as a return of sorts, writing:

“I feel like I found a home with the incredibly talented and good people at McKinney.”

She succeeds George Nguyen, who spent about a year in the New York GM position before leaving to become group planning lead at R/GA.