More trouble for MediaCom in the US as CEO Checkeris departs

MediaCom, until recently the jewel in WPP’s media planning and buying crown, seems to be having endless troubles in the US, CEO Doug Checkeris departing in the wake of the loss of the $1.4bn GSK business to Omnicom’s PHD.

Here’s Ad Age’s report:

After a string of major account losses, WPP’s GroupM today announced that Doug Checkeris, North American CEO of MediaCom, is leaving the agency and will be replaced by longtime MediaCom exec Harvey Goldhersz.

In a statement, the shop said Mr. Checkeris was leaving to “pursue other interests” and will stay on for a transitional period. Reached on his cellphone, Mr. Checkeris told Ad Age he had no comment regarding his departure or whether he thought he’d remain in the media agency world down the road.

For most in the industry, the move won’t come as much of a surprise.

During the past 12 months, MediaCom has lost several large accounts, culminating late last month when it saw one of its biggest, the $1.4 billion GlaxoSmithKline account, defect to Omnicom Group’s PHD. The string of losses also includes Diageo ($130 million), Darden’s Red Lobster planning business ($119 million), Ethan Allen ($23 million), JetBlue ($10 million), Lifetime Entertainment ($40 million) and the American Egg Board ($13 million).

Those losses are in contrast to the strong performances turned in by sibling networks Mindshare and Maxus in 2010. The exec switch is also indicative of GroupM’s tolerance for its agencies losing business; in 2009, GroupM announced then-North American CEO of Mindshare, Scott Neslund, was leaving the agency to pursue other opportunities after that shop had lost a number of major accounts.

In a statement, Stephen Allan, MediaCom Worldwide CEO, said: “I would like to thank Doug for his many contributions and accomplishments, firstly as our CEO in Canada and later as our North American CEO for the past three-plus years. I would also like to thank Doug for staying on for a period of time to help us make this important transition.”

As CEO of MediaCom North America, Mr. Goldhersz will be responsible for the management and operation of all MediaCom activities in six cities in the U.S. and Canada. He will remain based in the agency’s New York office and will report to Mr. Allan.

Since 2004, Mr. Goldhersz has served as vice chairman, worldwide chief operating officer of MediaCom Worldwide, acting as the global head of digital for the agency and overseeing the global leaders of the network’s key agency services including business science, research, insight, data solutions, media optimization and strategic planning.

You do wonder if WPP is over-complicating this media lark. It’s got MediaCom, Mindshare and MEC (formerly Mediaedge) but also Group M, which started out doing big TV negotiations but now seems to be running the whole show, plus the enticing Maxus (which still sounds like a condom brand).

The spin is that this is all about ‘media investment’ including clever stuff like devising TV shows.

But dumping the CEO when you lose a big one is not really very sophisticated.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.