Brien, a Brit, caused waves as McCann when he moved into the top job following a stint as boss of Interpublic’s Mediabrands operations. He began his move up the slippery agency pole at Leo Burnett in London, first as media director then as CEO.
At McCann he tried to pep up its creative performance by hiring the likes of Mother New York founder Linus Karlsson as creative supremo. But McCann lost a number of big accounts during his tenure and he was replaced by IPG PR boss Harris Diamond.
From McCann, in possession of a large pay-off, he invested in US search marketing agency Covario (a rival to iCrossing) which was acquired by Dentsu Aegis last year and rolled into its iProspect performance marketing agency.
So one might have expected the ambitious Brien, who felt he had not been given enough time to transform McCann, to have remained an entrepreneur. ICrossing now employs about 900 people in 17 offices worldwide so it’s a business with scale. But Brien can be expected to compete with Dentsu Aegis and others to make it a much bigger force in the performance marketing world.