MediaVest Star Planner Kaplowitz Jumps to WPP’s MEC

Marla Kaplowitz, a star planning executive at Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest—she was managing director on the shop’s Procter & Gamble account—has defected to WPP Group’s MEC where she has been named president, U.S. client services, a new position.

The move is effective March 10. Her focus will be current clients and the agency’s planning capabilities.

The move is part of a senior management reorganization that elevates two other executives at MEC to presidential level and is designed to free up CEO Lee Doyle to focus more on the agency’s expanding capabilities and new business efforts.

According to Doyle, Kaplowitz’s hire is part of a yearlong effort to bolster planning-related parts of the agency’s offering. “We’ve got a pretty strong reputation in the marketplace for best in class when it comes to implementation,” he said. “Where I think we lagged a little bit was our reputation in the insights and strategy area.” Hiring Kaplowitz and the appointment last year of Theresa LaMontagne as managing director of analytics and insights go a long way toward reducing that lag, he said.

Two other executives have been elevated as well: Eamonn Store has been promoted to president of global solutions and will focus on international clients that are managed from the U.S. Renee Milliaressis has been promoted to president of Team AT&T and will oversee the estimated $3 billion assignment, MEC’s biggest account.

As a result, Doyle will have fewer direct reports, enabling him to focus more on new business and the shop’s expanding offering. The shop has not won a lot of new business of late—its most recent big win was the $200 million Activision assignment in 2009, although it won Michelin and Hannaford Foods in 2010. “We are back in the hunt,” said Doyle.

As to capabilities, the task is to not only develop completely new offerings but also get more clients to buy into relatively newer parts of the practice such as social media, mobile and MEC Access, a sports and entertainment unit, said Doyle.

Hiring Kaplowitz is a reunion of sorts for Doyle. She worked for him years ago at MediaVest and also later at Ammirati. “P&G is arguably one of the most sophisticated and demanding marketers in the world,” said Doyle. “We feel like this is a real coup to bring somebody like this over.”