Initiative Restructures at the Top

By naming its East and West Coast managing directors to national posts last week, Initiative Media North America has made a radical restructuring.

The Interpublic Group of Cos. media network is moving from leadership divided along geographic lines to a national structure based on business disciplines.

Top executives at other media shops have functional rather than regional responsibilities, but Initiative’s setup is unusual in that it essentially creates two distinct units: traditional media planning and buying and “relationship marketing.” The latter includes two-way forms of communication, such as interactivity and direct response, and evolving concepts, such as convergence.

“We break ourselves up geographically where it makes sense for clients and where it makes sense to buy media better locally,” said Jim Bell, 53, who was promoted last week from Eastern region managing director to president and COO, Initiative Media One-to-One Marketing (IM121). “But to have our senior-management structure split along regions doesn’t benefit our clients as much as it could.”

Bell, whose duties at IM121 include overseeing research and interactive, said the new structure allows for greater opportunities that IM121 plans to pursue, such as developing alliances and new acquisitions.

“There is going to be a more holistic use of the agency’s resources,” said Carolyn Bivens, 48, who rose from Western region managing director to Initiative president and COO this week. She replaces Mike Lotito, who left last month to head the online buying exchange being created in a joint venture between IPG, Omnicom and WPP.

Bivens’ mandate now includes service on client-direct accounts, broadcast buying and planning, and information technology. Her purview also includes Initiative Partners, the division that works with small-to-midsize ad agencies.