Exec Named for WPP Social Net Venture

NEW YORK WPP Group said former Young & Rubicam executive Alex Norman would lead the social networking joint venture it set up with LiveWorld.

Norman, 33, will serve as chief executive of LiveWorld-WPP, a joint venture the two companies set up in July. LiveWorld builds social networking applications for clients like eBay, HBO and Mini.

LiveWorld-WPP is intended to bring LiveWorld services, which include creating and moderating message boards, blogs and social networks, to WPP clients and agencies.

Mark Read, CEO of WPP.com, the holding company’s digital strategy unit, said in a statement Norman would be “an excellent ambassador and evangelist” for the joint venture within the holding company.

Norman spent the last three years with Endeavor Marketing, an event marketing and promotions firm part owned by Interpublic Group, where he was a senior marketing director and worked on the American Express account. He worked five years at WPP shops. He spent from 2000 to 2003 at Young & Rubicam, where he was director of brand innovations. He joined Y&R after two years as a strategy consultant at Ogilvy, working on IBM, Jaguar and other accounts.

The LiveWorld joint venture is one of several moves the holding company has made to stay on top of changing media trends. In August it bought a stake in Visible Technologies, a firm that monitors brand reputations in the blogosphere and social networking sites, and it has invested in a handful of emerging media platforms, including online gaming ad network WildTangent.

Ogilvy, Wunderman and other WPP agencies have used LiveWorld’s social networking services, including a social network recently built for Wunderman client Land Rover in the United Kingdom.