Co-Founder Exits MPG Entertainment

NEW YORK Hank Kim, one of two co-founding directors of Havas-owned MPG’s branded entertainment unit, has left the agency, the shop has confirmed.

MPG in 2004 hired Kim and Richard Linnett, both former Adweek and Advertising Age staffers, to set up and run the department. Earlier this year Linnett left for a similar post at New York-based Fathom Communications, a unit of Omnicom Group.

MPG chief operating officer Steve Lanzano confirmed Kim’s departure and indicated that a search is under way for his replacement. Lanzano described Kim’s decision to resign as a “mutual parting of the ways,” over strategic differences. “We are certainly fully dedicated to the branded entertainment space,” he said.

Under Kim and Linnett’s watch, MPG executed a 2005 project for Outback Steakhouse, which was the setting in several scenes in the short-lived CBS sitcom “Listen Up,” starring Jason Alexander, with a running joke about “what happens at Outback stays at Outback.” The pair also created a series in 2006 for International Truck & Engine called Trick My Truck for cable’s CMT channel.

Kim described the split as “amicable,” and said he was pursuing consulting opportunities in the marketing communications area. “I enjoyed my experience at MPG as one half of the duo launching the branded entertainment unit. I wish the agency continued success in all of its future endeavors,” said Kim.

Kim is the third branded content director to depart MPG this year. In addition to Linnett, who left in March, Guy Champniss, global director of branded entertainment at MPG, left at the end of August, and has not yet been replaced. He joined the agency in 2005 to develop global branded content initiatives after serving as a producer for the BBC in the U.K.

Meanwhile in the U.S., Lanzano said the shop continues to search for a replacement for Bill McOwen, who resigned as New York-based chief investment officer last month for a position with Publicis Groupe’s Starcom on the West Coast. “We’re still aligning skill sets for that job going forward,” he said. “We’re talking to both internal and external candidates.”