New McCann boss Harris Diamond recalls old guard – Joyce King Thomas rejoins to mind Mastercard

Former McCann New York CCO Joyce King Thomas (pictured) is rejoining the troubled agency to head a new group, effectively a ‘Team Mastercard,’ for one of the Interpublic-owned agency’s biggest remaining accounts.

King Thomas left the agency two years ago in a clear-out of the old guard instigated by former McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien. Her new group is called McCann XBC, after ‘Extra Bold Condensed,’ a typeface, for some mysterious reason.

“Everything a global brand does should come from one distinct positioning and purpose,” says King Thomas. “McCann XBC is being launched to ensure that Mastercard gets the creative work they deserve in every medium in every country in the world.”

The unit will report to Luca Lindner, president Americas, Middle East and Africa.

Well this seems eminently sensible: Brien, in his two-year reign, ditched just about every senior manager McCann had in its key North America region, a big gamble for an agency that was built on its account handling skills.

He chose to put his trust in a new raft of creatives headed by former Mother New York founder Linus Karlsson, plus sundry other Swedes.

This was all fine and good (on the creative front) but it’s far easier to lose big accounts than it is to win them and McCann lost a bunch, including Nestle, Lufthansa and Exxon. And senior account handlers are more important in creative agencies than media agencies, Brien’s background.

King Thomas is a creative of course but, after about 20 years on Mastercard, she’s an account handler too. And here she is:

But, as Diamond will be uncomfortably aware, it’s one thing to shore up existing business, quite another to attract new clients. And, at the moment, there aren’t too many compelling reasons to move to McCann.

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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.