Johnson at MRM Partners as Digital Director

NEW YORK Microsoft’s John Kahan hopes Greg Johnson can do for his company what he did for other blue-chip clients such as American Express and General Motors.

Johnson, 42, joined direct-marketing shop MRM Partners, a division of Interpublic Group’s McCann WorldGroup, two weeks ago as its first global director of digital innovation. He will also play a key role on the Microsoft account, which MRM splits with WPP Group’s Wunderman. Global billings on the CRM business are about $400 million [Adweek, Feb. 16, 2004].

“I’m very pleased,” said Kahan, general manager of the Microsoft’s global relationship marketing group. “He’s got some terrific talent and brings a lot to the table.”

A six-year Digitas veteran and most recently its president, Johnson was responsible for designing that shop’s online network-sharing capabilities. He also helped replicate the system for AmEx and GM so the companies could handle their increasingly high-volume online customer management programs.

“Greg was the primary architect of Digitas’ evolution,” said MRM CEO Reuben Hendell, who joined the agency in the fall from Digitas in New York.

Although Johnson was most recently based in San Francisco, as he will be for MRM, his work was integral to the various Digitas offices, Hendell said.

Having developed those systems enabled clients and the agency to execute more sophisticated Web creative ideas, Johnson said, citing Digitas’ collaboration with WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather on the Superman “Web-isodes.”

In 1989, Johnson was a founder of Magnet Design in Washington, D.C., which evolved into an interactive multimedia company.

In 1996, he was hired to establish the Hong Kong office of then Poppe.Tyson. Three years later, Strategic Interactive Group recruited him. Digitas absorbed that company in a merger.