Universal McCann Taps 3 Execs

Universal McCann’s drive to expand its brand is being fueled by talent acquisition. Last week, the unbundled media- buying operation for Interpublic Group’s McCann-Erickson hired three top media executives at UM outposts nationwide—a month after wooing Sean Cunningham, Lowe Lintas & Partners’ New York media director, to take on the same duties at UM in New York.

Jonathan Swallen, director of media research services at Ogilvy & Mather for 17 years, is joining UM in New York as director of media- modeling arm Universal Solutions, where he will work on predictability and accountability tools. Swallen’s post is a new position.

John Padgett, national media manager at The Coca-Cola Co., has arrived at UM’s affiliated shop in Atlanta, Fitzgerald & Co., as executive vice president, chief media officer. He replaces Nik Mainthia, who left to join BBDO South.

Brett Stewart, who had been executive director of The Media Edge in Singapore, was hired as media director of McCann-Erickson’s San Francisco office, which claims about $500 million in billings and whose flagship account is Microsoft. He replaces Kelly Koniswhite, who left to run her own consultancy. Eventually, Stewart’s office will be renamed UM San Francisco.

All three hires will officially join by Labor Day and report to Mark Stewart, UM evp, North American media director. Stewart said the hires will help UM spread its brand nationwide and set up “a portal to the full world of Universal McCann” for affiliated agencies.

“We will officially launch the Universal McCann brand in every market we do business in,” he said. “As Intel is to Gateway, UM will be to McCann or its allied agencies.

“We’re changing our business model,” Stewart added. “Our positioning is really media marketing—media that drives business and gets results. It’s almost like the next generation of media practice. These new appointments expand our capabilities and resources beyond traditional planning and buying.”

UM bills about $2 billion in the U.S. and has also been active lately in launching organizational initiatives. In the past year, UM has entered into a joint venture with Hispanic shop Casanova Pendrill, partnered with IPG’s online arm Zentropy to de-velop joint online and offline media deals, moved all its print buying into a dedicated print group and launched UM Futures, which is charged with identifying and evaluating the future of TV, among other tasks.