GroupM North America CEO Kirk McDonald to depart

—Mindshare’s Adam Gerhart is taking over as interim CEO—

By Jessica Heygate

GroupM’s North America CEO Kirk McDonald is set to depart by the end of 2023 after three years overseeing the business. The news was announced by GroupM’s global CEO Christian Juhl in a note sent to staff on Monday, Oct. 30.

Juhl said McDonald “has decided to step down” in order to “pursue his next challenge in the new year.”

“I’d like to thank Kirk for his many contributions to our company,” Juhl wrote. “A champion for innovation and responsible investment, he has been a strong and inspirational leader for us and our industry. He has also been a valuable partner to me and the global GroupM leadership community more broadly.”

GroupM said it has begun the process of searching for a replacement.

In the meantime, McDonald’s duties have been passed to Mindshare global CEO Adam Gerhart, who will act as interim CEO for GroupM North America.

GroupM has undergone several reorganizations under McDonald’s leadership, including merging two of its media agencies Essence and MediaCom in 2022.

In September, GroupM announced plans to sunset its Xaxis, Finecast and Sightline brands to form a unified performance marketing division under Nexus.

The media network was recently rocked by the loss of the majority of Uber’s $600 million media account to Omnicom last month, previously handled by EssenceMediaCom, which retained the business in Asia-Pacific. It comes on the heels of a few other big account losses in the last year, including General Mills and Signet Jewelers.

In its Q3 earnings report last week, Mark Read, CEO of GroupM parent WPP, said GroupM was heavily impacted by spending cuts from technology clients in recent months.

McDonald joined GroupM in 2020 from ad tech firm Xandr, where he was chief business officer and formerly chief marketing officer. At the time, Xandr was owned by AT&T. It was subsequently purchased by Microsoft in 2022.

He was formerly CMO of AT&T’s advertising and analytics division, president of supply-side platform Pubmatic and president of digital at Time Inc.

In a quote sent to Campaign US, McDonald said: “Since I joined GroupM a little more than three years ago, we’ve achieved incredible things—for our company, the industry, and our clients—living up to our promise of making advertising work better for people. I’m immensely proud of our progress on this journey. It’s been an honor to be a part of this team leading the way forward with the best in the industry. While I leave for the next chapter in my journey, I leave knowing GroupM has the talent, knowledge, empathy, and dedication to continue shaping the next era of media.”

Shifts at GroupM come on the heels of a broader cost-cutting initiative at WPP that aims to streamline its back-office operations. In October, the holding company also merged creative agencies VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson to further consolidate its offerings.

GroupM’s Mindshare was named Media Agency of the Year at Campaign US’ Agency of the Year awards in March.

This article originally appeared at Campaign US.

Top photo: GroupM


David Brown