Bernardin Joins Burnett; Lowe Elevates Cantor

NEW YORK Lowe has promoted client services chief Susan Cantor to president of the shop’s New York office, following the exit earlier today of U.S. chief executive Tom Bernardin, the agency has confirmed.

Bernardin, 50, left Interpublic Group’s Lowe to become worldwide president and U.S. CEO of Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett in Chicago, the agency confirmed.

Cantor, 36, came to Lowe via its merger with sibling IPG shop Ammirati Puris Lintas in 1999. She is most closely associated with the agency’s GMC business but also works on accounts such as MassMutual and Macy’s.

Succeeding Cantor as executive vice president and director of client services is Sal Taibi, who leads Lowe’s “Got Milk” account. In addition, CFO Robert Laub has added the title of chief operating officer and new business development chief Ruth Ayres has become chief marketing officer.

Goldsmith’s swift move suggests that the management change was already in the works when Bernardin left. In fact, in a memo to agency staffers on Tuesday afternoon, Goldsmith wrote, “For the past several weeks, I have been working on an aggressive and bold plan to restructure our senior management team. That plan will not be affected in any way by Tom’s departure.”

Bernardin joins Leo Burnett with the expectation that he will succeed Linda Wolf as worldwide CEO in the next 18 months, according to the agency. Wolf, 56, said she intended to remain CEO of the agency for the next 12-18 months.

“Nothing has been more important than finding the right talent to carry on the Leo Burnett legacy and continue to drive this agency into the future,” Wolf said in a statement. “We have been looking for someone with the right vision, the right global experience, obvious financial acumen, passion for the creative product and the ability to build strong, lasting client relationships.”

Additionally, the shop appointed a new global management team. Paul Eichelman, 39, most recently finance director for the agency’s European region, will become chief operating officer. He replaces Dave Winclechter, who is leaving the company. Richard Pinder, 39, most recently regional managing director for Leo Burnett Asia Pacific operations, will become president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, filling a post that had been vacant for some time. Michelle Kristula-Green, 47, most recently president and representative director of Publicis Groupe’s Beacon Communications in Japan, will replace Pinder as president of Burnett’s Asia Pacific region.

The shop also named Nick Brien CEO of the newly created Arc Global. Brien, 42, most recently was president of corporate business development for Burnett Publicis Groupe sibling Starcom. Arc was created last month through the merger of Publicis Groupe below-the-line properties, Arc Integrated Marketing, Frankel, iLeo and Semaphore Partners.

The Chicago shop has been revamping its management since last fall after the departure of two top executives. In August, worldwide chief operating officer Stephen Gatfield left the agency to return to his native London. A month later, worldwide president Bob Brennan also left after two years of relatively stagnant new business growth.

Bernardin was closely associated with Lowe’s $300 million Verizon Wireless account, on which creative duties are currently in review. Just days after the review’s launch, Verizon moved the creative duties to Lowe’s Interpublic Group sibling McCann-Erickson.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with the news of Cantor’s promotion.