GroupM North America CEO Brian Lesser to Depart for AT&T Role

By Alexandra Bruell Features Dow Jones Newswires

GroupM North America Chief Executive Brian Lesser is leaving the WPP-owned media agency group to join AT&T Inc.

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Kelly Clark, GroupM's global CEO, will take on the North America duties while the company searches for a successor, the company said.

The media agency group supported AT&T as a client for many years, but last year lost the business to rival Omnicom.

GroupM is the WPP unit that houses media agencies Mindshare, MEC, MediaCom, Maxus and Essence. WPP recently announced plans to combine MEC and Maxus.

Mr. Lesser was elevated to the GroupM role two years ago from his role as CEO of digital media group Xaxis.

AT&T is tapping the digital media pioneer as marketers seek more control over a business which has grown in complexity, with the advent of new technologies and digital mediums.

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Mr. Lesser is tasked with building an advertising and analytics business using the company's customer data and content assets. He'll be CEO of the business and report to AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, the company said.

"Brian is a terrific executive and one of the best there is in harnessing technology and data to create targeted advertising," said Mr. Stephenson. "Once we complete our acquisition of Time Warner Inc., we believe there is an opportunity to build an automated advertising platform that can do for premium video and TV advertising what the search and social media companies have done for digital advertising."

"Brian has been a key contributor to 24/7, Xaxis and most recently GroupM, and we are sorry to see him go, but wish him every success in his new role," said a GroupM spokesman.

Write to Alexandra Bruell at alexandra.bruell@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 04, 2017 09:30 ET (13:30 GMT)