UM Names Brien CEO

NEW YORK Interpublic Group’s Universal McCann has confirmed hiring Nick Brien as chief executive officer and president.

Most recently, Brien, 43, a U.K. native, was CEO of Arc Worldwide, Publicis Groupe’s Chicago-based marketing services company. The UM post has been filled on an interim basis for the last four-and-a-half months by COO Murray Dudgeon, who was installed after IPG removed Robin Kent in mid-March.

Kent departed after a series of setbacks at the shop, and shortly after its biggest client, General Motors, put its estimated $3.2 billion account into review. GM subsequently shifted its business out of UM and placed it with the only other contender in the review, Planworks, a unit of Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest Group.

The appointment of the well-regarded Brien is the first big hire made by IPG media CEO Mark Rosenthal, to whom Brien will report. Rosenthal, the former MTV Networks president, was brought in by IPG CEO Michael Roth two months ago to shore up the holding company’s media operations and to reposition them for future growth.

“Nick Brien is more than just a top-tier international media executive,” said Rosenthal, in a statement. “He brings a unique breadth of experience, having also led an ad agency and a multi-disciplinary marketing services firm. He’s known as a passionate client partner who understands the big picture and the growing need to build brands with fully-integrated media solutions.”

McCann Worldgroup Chairman and CEO, John Dooner called Brien “absolutely the right person to lead Universal McCann forward as part of the next generation media offering Mark Rosenthal is creating. Plus with his unique background encompassing both media and marketing communications, he provides UM with the ideal complementary link to Worldgroup’s full set of capabilities.”

UM had a rough 2004, losing more than $400 million in U.S. business alone when Nestle consolidated its $1.5 billion global media account after a roster review with WPP Group’s Mindshare and Publicis Groupe’s ZenithOptimedia. UM was also the incumbent buyer on the $300 million Coca-Cola consolidation won by Publicis’ MediaVest. UM did bounce back a bit earlier this year by winning the $300 million Intel global media account after a review in March.

Before joining Arc as CEO in February 2004, Brien, a 22-year industry veteran, was president of corporate business development at Starcom MediaVest Group. From 1997 to 2001, he was CEO of Leo Burnett in London. He began his career in London at Grey in 1982, and joined Burnett in 1992 as executive media director.