MindShare Reboots Operations

NEW YORK WPP Group’s MindShare is undertaking a worldwide restructuring starting with North America.

As part of the restructuring, MindShare Interaction, the shop’s digital operation, will be dissolved as a standalone unit and its employees dispersed among client teams and redeployed throughout the network.

“Digital is not at the core of what we do. We are integrating it into the offering, but not at the center, because that would mean you’re no longer media neutral,” said Scott Neslund, MindShare’s North American CEO. “If you look at the landscape today and in the future, digital is a big part of it, but there is still a tremendous [traditional] media landscape that operates with consumers.”

The broader overhaul focuses on four key areas of service: client leadership; business planning; “invention” (including branded content and other creative disciplines); and “the exchange” (including buying and activation).

“We see this as a reinvention of the agency rather than simply a restructuring,” said Neslund. The impetus for the revamp was a mandate from global CEO Dominic Proctor last summer to reposition the company based on changing client needs and the constantly evolving media landscape, he said.
“Brands are no longer driven by simple ideas or ideals but by a series of exchanges between the brand and the consumer,” Proctor said in a statement. “We are reinventing our form, our thinking and our process, to be our clients’ lead business partner in meeting the challenges this new landscape creates for them.”

Each of the four areas of service will be led by a group of senior executives, most of whom will report to Neslund.

Margaret Clerkin, for example, who had been N.A. CEO at MindShare Interaction, will take a “leadership role” within the “invention” sector, bringing her digital skill set to help develop stronger media plans for all clients, Neslund said.

Clerkin will work closely with MindShare Entertainment execs David Lang and Shari Cohen. But neither Lang nor Cohen will report to Clerkin.

“This new structure has less to do with hierarchy at the top and more to do with having smart individuals working on behalf of clients,” said Neslund.
Cohen has been co-head of the national broadcast buying unit (along with Jason Maltby). She will continue to function as a top negotiator while adding new duties and working with media vendors to devise elaborate cross-platform deals.
Bart Flaherty is shifting to MindShare from head of the econometric modeling unit at WPP’s GroupM, to oversee the new business planning practice. Flaherty will work with consumer insights director Tata Sato, Karen Kaufman (analytics) and Tim Elton (communications planning).
The “exchange” sector is intended to de-silo the buying groups “so there is leadership across media platforms and we can recommend to clients that they move money from channel to channel based on how we see the landscape and consumer behavior changing,” Neslund said.

Andy Chapman, the shop’s top digital buyer, will join Maltby and Cohen as a senior member of the exchange team.