Gandon, L’Oréal Account Lead at McCann, Exits for Publicis

Taking on a top Nestlé role?

Aude Gandon, the Paris-based L’Oréal worldwide account director at McCann Erickson, is leaving to join Publicis Worldwide, say sources close to the situation. Her exit marks a significant management change at the Interpublic agency, which has reportedly been on shaky ground with the world’s largest beauty and cosmetics company.

While her new role at the Publicis Groupe namesake could not be determined, sources note that the top account job running the French network’s global Nestlé business has been vacant since Carter Murray left to join Y&R Advertising North America as president, CEO last October. Last week, Murray added responsibility as CEO of Y&R New York.

Gandon and Publicis execs could not be reached for comment.

In the wake of Gandon’s departure, the management of the L’Oréal business will be overseen by Gustavo Martinez, McCann's president of Europe, who is already working on replacement options, according to a McCann rep.

Gandon had been one of the senior executives who was set to run Beauty Village, a stand-alone McCann Worldgroup unit that was created to handle L’Oréal and its Maybelline group. Sources said Beauty Village was shuttered last summer, at the request of a senior L’Oréal client who found out about it after the launch and did not want the two pieces of business handled at the same agency.

McCann announced its hire of Gandon, formerly the managing director of Leo Burnett’s beauty, fashion and luxury division, Atelier-lb, in July 2010, shortly after Nick Brien, a onetime Burnett executive took over as CEO at Worldgroup in April of that year. (Brien assumed that top job after serving as chief executive at Interpublic’s Mediabrands unit.)

In other changes, Matt Freeman, who was hired as Brien’s global chief innovation officer and vice chairman at McCann Erickson in April 2011, is said to be in the process of finalizing an exit at the company. Freeman, the former founder and CEO of Omnicom’s Tribal DDB Worldwide, joined Interpublic’s Mediabrands Ventures in January 2010, from digital media startup Betawave.

Additionally, Gary Neel, the General Motors global brand leader at McCann, is leaving that role but will remain a consultant. Neel assumed that global job in August 2010 after Joe Garcia was named president of McCann Midwest, a job Neel held for 10 years. Garcia had previously run the Chrysler account at BBDO Detroit.

The automotive giant is expected to announce a decision shortly on its creative review of global Chevy work, business McCann handles in various markets outside the U.S.