Kurt Unkel Is New Digital Chief at Team Detroit

Previously top VivaKi exec

Kurt Unkel, global president of VivaKi’s Audience on Demand, is moving over to WPP’s Team Detroit as chief digital officer, according to sources.

Unkel was among the rising stars within Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi and was expected to influence digital integration initiatives during the merger of Publicis Groupe and Omnicom. He was named to his last VivaKi role following a reorganization at the digital unit last year, taking charge of AOD, one of VivaKi’s fastest growing practices and largest revenue drivers.

Unkel built AOD from one of the first agency-led ad-trading platforms into a global operation. (After launching in Amsterdam and Singapore in 2013, it will set up shop in China this year.)

Unkel could not be reached for comment and a Team Detroit representative could not confirm source reports. However, a VivaKi rep said: “We can confirm that Kurt is leaving VivaKi in pursuit of greater work/life balance and an opportunity that keeps him in Detroit. We have a succession plan in place that will be announced shortly.”

Ford is Team Detroit's marquee client and the largest global client at WPP. Also, Unkel has a wealth of experience in the automotive category. He started his advertising career at WPP's JWT, working on Ford. And before joining VivaKi upon its launch in 2008, he launched and led teams in digital strategy, investment, analytics and ad operations for 10 years within Publicis Groupe, with a focus on General Motors.

In addition to Ford business, which includes the Lincoln brand, Team Detroit works for Compuware Corp., Johnson Controls, United Way, College for Creative Studies, Ohio Art, New Step and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Illustration by Rob Kelly