MEC Hires Starcom's Amanda Richman as U.S. CEO

By Suzanne Vranica Features Dow Jones Newswires

Ad-buying firm MEC has named Amanda Richman as chief executive officer of its U.S. operations, as the company begins the challenging task of absorbing its sister agency Maxus.

Continue Reading Below

A 12-year veteran of Publicis Groupe, Ms. Richman has been president of investment and activation at the holding company's Starcom USA media agency since 2013.

Ms. Richman, 50 years old, began as a specialist in digital ads but has risen through the ranks and now oversees ad buying across all media channels for companies such as Airbnb and Bank of America.

She is expected to join MEC in October and will report to Tim Castree, MEC's global chief executive, MEC said.

In her new role, Ms. Richman will be charged with helping MEC ensure the success of its combination with sister agency Maxus. Both are part of GroupM, the umbrella firm that houses WPP PLC's ad-buying shops, which announced the consolidation in June.

MEC had billings of roughly $25 billion in 2015, while Maxus had billings of roughly $11 billion in 2015. Clients of the two agencies include L'Oréal, Netflix, Vodafone and Paramount Pictures.

Continue Reading Below

Consolidating the two agencies is part of a broader effort by ad holding companies to save money and reinvent their businesses. Ad firms are under pressure from clients to reduce the fees they charge and figure out a new business model that will help agencies stand out as the business of buying ads has become a commoditized service.

It is critical "to define what your brand is, what you stand for and how you differentiate yourself in this very cluttered marketplace," said Ms. Richman.

Still, combining agencies is not easy. Not only do ad firms have to convince clients that a merger is beneficial to their business but MEC must also make sure the cultures of the companies meld in order for the two firms to successfully integrate their operations and succeed in the marketplace.

In a statement, Mr. Castree called Ms. Richman a "proven culture-builder."

One of the first priorities for Ms. Richman will be to focus on the people at the newly combined agency.

"Talent is the number one thing we need to focus on because people are still the number one driver of this business," Ms. Richman said. "Creating a culture and a united culture has got to be our first focus."

Write to Suzanne Vranica at suzanne.vranica@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 18, 2017 12:44 ET (16:44 GMT)