DeBear LeavesSFM/Media

Elliot DeBear, svp for business development at SFM/Media Planning, last week joined Independent Media Services as senior evp, a new post. DeBear, 50, joins agency president Neil Aronstam and evp Robert Petizon on a three-person executive committee that will run the media shop.

The hiring culminates the New York shop’s six-month search for a third partner, Aronstam said. “In our 31st year, we want to go forward in the best way we can, and Elliot has the right background and time of service,” he said.

DeBear’s hiring from SFM in New York is not related to the highly contested review for New Line Studio’s $120 million media business, in which Independent’s Los Angeles office is the incumbent. Independent handles entertainment accounts that include MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon.

It is not known who is replacing DeBear at SFM. His departure will not affect SFM’s defense of its media-buying duties in the review for MCI WorldCom’s $75 million, residential long-distance creative and media account, DeBear said, because he was not involved with MCI at SFM. SFM CEO Steve Farella was unavailable for comment.

During his five years at SFM, DeBear brought in several high-profile pieces of business, including Office Depot. With his move from SFM (which has more than $1 billion in billings), Havas’ media arm, to Independent, which bills about $300 million, he returns to his midsized media agency roots. Before joining SFM in 1996, he founded Media Department, a New York-based media shop.

“This is an opportunity for me to exploit those skill sets [honed at SFM],” he said of the move. Chris Casaburi