MDC Partners Hires Network CEO’s Husband as Global President of Brands

By Patrick Coffee 

In recent months, MDC Partners has earned more than its share of headlines thanks primarily to now-former Founder/Chairman/CEO Miles Nadal, his struggles with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the subsequent appointment of Scott L. Kaufman as his successor.

Several weeks before Nadal stepped down, however, the MDC organization made another significant hire: Bill Grogan, an industry veteran who will now serve as “president of global brands” for all of the holding company’s agencies. The role was created specifically for him, with an MDC spokesperson telling us that it was “designed to support agencies and global clients across the network” and that his role will be “incremental to the leadership teams on those accounts.”

Grogan also happens to be the husband of Lori Senecal, an MDC vet who was promoted to president and CEO of the MDC Partner Network last August and then to global CEO of MDC shop Crispin, Porter + Bogusky six months later. (She currently holds chief executive roles at both organizations.)

The two have worked together several times over the past decade, and they reportedly met while Grogan was managing accounts at McCann New York and Senecal was president.

Grogan has worked in advertising for more than 30 years. In addition to his time at McCann, he spent five years as president of WPP’s Berlin Cameron United–and though he told AdAge that he planned to leave the industry entirely when he resigned from BCU in 2008, that didn’t come to pass: later the same year he became managing director at McCann WorldGroup’s event marketing unit Momentum Worldwide.

AdAge used the word “quietly” to describe the hiring of Grogan as global CMO at MDC’s Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners two years later. That hire was like this one in that MDC did not issue any press releases or official statements and Grogan didn’t appear on the agency’s website. (Senecal was CEO of KBS+ in 2010. At the time, MDC went out of its way to counter charges of nepotism, telling AdAge and Stuart Elliott that Grogan was hired after an “informal search which took place over the past several months” and that he would report to Richard Kirshenbaum rather than his wife. Senecal was later promoted to chairman and global executive chairman at KBS+.)

In October 2013, Grogan became Kirshenbaum’s co-president of account leadership as the agency hired Kerry Fitzmaurice to fill the position of chief marketer; at the time, Senecal told Adweek that the change came, in part, because the CMO title “did not accurately reflect his client services role on key accounts like BMW.” Fitzmaurice held the position for one year, and KBS+ named Jennifer Hohman of IPG as global CMO–which it continues to describe as “a newly-created role”–in April.

Spokespeople for both CP+B and the larger MDC organization said that Grogan will not work directly with the Boulder agency except in an advisory role and that his hire will not affect leadership on the Infiniti business, which left TBWA for CP+B in 2014 after more than 15 years with the Omnicom agency. His most recent job, however, involved running BMW for KBS+.

As in 2010, the organization claims that Grogan will not work directly with Senecal, though he will be closely advising both companies at which she holds executive positions…and both husband and wife now report to Kaufman. (Senecal’s title is officially president and CEO of the MDC Partner Network, which is a division within the larger MDC Partners organization, though Senecal herself does not make that distinction on LinkedIn. Confused yet?)

Bill Grogan himself declined to comment on this story, but, judging by his Twitter account, we can say that he is a big fan of poetry, Paris and Joyce Carol Oates.

Expect more news to come on MDC as the holding company reports its second quarter results on Thursday. In the meantime, here’s a handy roundup of recent developments via The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today blog.