WPP’s GroupM hires Kirk McDonald from Warner’s Xandr as new North America CEO

WPP has made a key appointment: Kirk McDonald (below) has been hired from WarnerMedia’s Xandr programmatic unit to be the new CEO of media business GroupM in North America. The position has been vacant since Tim Castree left last year.

GroupM agencies include Mindshare, MediaCom, Wavemaker, Essence, m/Six and Xaxis. It claims $17.6bn in billings across the US and Canada with a 22% market share.

GroupM global CEO Christian Juhl says: “Kirk brings a unique view of the market in that he has experience in media, technology and marketing. We were looking for someone who had both the right experience in media and the capability to lead the region through transformational change.

“Not only did Kirk demonstrate he has both, but his vision for making advertising work better for people aligned perfectly with ours. His outstanding reputation in the industry put him at the top of our list. Additionally, he has worked in complex organizations, so he understands the dynamics at play in a media holding group.”

McDonald says: “The scale and depth of GroupM NA, combined with the organization’s purpose of making advertising work better for clients and people, is the kind of ambitious objective that, when executed properly, will change the world. The opportunity to join the teams leading and shaping this change was simply too compelling to pass up.”

It’s fair to say that Xandr, ultimately owned by AT&T has not been a resounding success in its efforts to create a standalone (or maybe stand-apart) media business. But McDonald has good experience in all the sides of the business GroupM (and WPP as a whole) is trying to combine in a creative/tech proposition.

Handily he’s black. WPP recently faced a mountain of criticism when it revealed that its US management and executive ranks were nearly all white.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.

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