Fitzgerald Fills Key Positions

Fitzgerald & Co. has made a pair of executive hires, one to fill a key role in its media department and another that brings an new dimension to the agency’s planning capabilities.

John Padgett has been hired to head the $116 million Atlanta shop’s media department as executive vice president and chief media officer. He had been with Coca-Cola for 11 years, most recently as national media manager.

Paul Gilberto has been installed as vice president of brand planning, a new position at the agency. He previously held that title at Pollak Levitt & Partners here.

“We’ve never had a planning director,” said agency principal Dave Fitzgerald. “But when you lose two or three new business pitches because of a lack of brand planning, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, ‘Hey, we need a brand planner.’ “

Gilberto, 33, said the support he would receive from other planners at Fitzgerald’s parent, McCann-Erickson in New York, made the opportunity especially appealing.

“I like the fact that there are a network of planners in the McCann family to bounce ideas off of and vice versa,” Gilberto said.

Before entering the agency world, Gilberto worked at Procter & Gamble and later Georgia-Pacific. Joining him at the agency from PL&P is junior brand planner Melissa Richter.

Padgett, 41, is back on the agency side after more than a decade working at one of the country’s premier clients. His first job was at The Ross Agency in New Orleans. He then moved to Price-McNabb in Columbia, S.C., where he worked on a regional Coke account and was later recruited to work for the soft drink giant.

He replaces Nik Mainthia, who left the Atlanta agency last January to join crosstown rival BBDO South. That rivalry heated up when Mainthia hired Fitzgerald’s highly regarded associate media director, Elizabeth Tescione.

Padgett plans to bring stability back to the Fitzgerald media.

“[Coke] felt like home to me,” Padgett said. “But once I put the emotional part aside, I saw that the opportunity here is tremendous. Fitzgerald is uniquely positioned in Atlanta. We’re not a big agency with an Atlanta office, we’re not just an Atlanta agency. We’re an Atlanta agency with global resources.”

Fitzgerald is a member of the Interpublic Group of Cos.