IPG Names Rosenthal for Global Media

NEW YORK Interpublic Group confirmed it has named Mark Rosenthal chairman and CEO of its worldwide media agency operations.

Rosenthal joins IPG after a 22-year run with MTV Networks and its predecessor company Warner AmEx Satellite Entertainment. He served as president and COO of MTVN for 10 years until 2004.

Rosenthal, 53, will oversee the global operations of Initiative and Universal McCann, which had combined estimated worldwide billings of $38 billion in 2004, as well as negotiating arm Magna Global.

“Mark brings an unusual combination of talents in that he has exceptional operational skills and a real vision as to the future of media, which is becoming an increasingly important part of our business,” said IPG chairman and CEO Michael Roth, in a statement.

“While there is a great deal that needs to be done operationally to bring Interpublic’s media assets together, I am confident we will now be able to offer a distinctive and coordinated set of capabilities to our clients,” said Rosenthal, in a statement. “Initiative and Universal will remain independent of one another and we’ll also remain strongly committed to supporting Magna Global’s unique strength as our aggregated negotiation unit. I look forward to seeing us innovate in key areas such as media measurement and research.”

The new position is part of a reorganization that has been in the works for several months to get the holding company’s media groups back on track after a series of setbacks.

The reorganization puts in place a structure that is similar to the holding-company-within-a-holding-company structure that has been in place at both WPP, where GroupM oversees media agencies Mindshare, Mediaedge:cia and Maxus, and at Omnicom, where Omnicom Media Group oversees OMD and PHD.

IPG yesterday suffered a blow when General Motors shifted its $3.2 billion U.S. buying account from its GM Mediaworks and LCI units to Publicis Groupe’s GM Planworks, part of Starcom MediaVest [Adweek Online, May 11]. The IPG shops had defended in a two-month review.

Rosenthal’s hire gives IPG something positive to point to after setbacks that include client defections and continuing financial accounting problems.

Late last year, IPG’s Universal McCann lost Nestle’s U.S. media business, valued at $550 million. In November, IPG’s Initiative lost roughly $650 million in European media business it handled for Unilever.

But there have been some wins as well, including GM’s consolidation of its $700 million European media and planning account at Universal McCann last December and Initiative’s successful defense of its $300 million AOL account last year. In March, UM retained its $400 million U.S. buying account for L’Oreal.

Still, IPG began a management housecleaning in March when Robin Kent was removed as worldwide CEO of UM and Initiative global chairman Marie-Jose Forissier was dismissed.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with IPG’s confirmation and additional details of Rosenthal’s hire.