One of the biggest names in advertising, British-born Nick who this summer told The Drum of his pride at what his company McCanns had achieved as official advertising partner of the London Olympics, is reported to be under threat as chief executive of McCann Worldgroup in New York
The Interpublic Group is considering replacing him after just over two years in the job, the Wall Street Journal says today, quoting a person familiar with the situation.
McCann (Brien dropped Erickson from the logo) accounts for about a third of Interpublic's $7 billion in annual revenue, but has been suffering revenue shortfalls as it has lost a number of big accounts.
Nescafé, Exxon Mobil , Hewlett-Packard and Lufthansa have all gone. Besides McCann, the company has lost accounts at its DraftFCB agency, including brewer MillerCoors LLC and consumer-products maker S.C. Johnson. Now Interpublic has begun setting a timetable for replacing Brien, this person said.
The change could come by the end of the year. The company recently has had some informal conversations with a top executive from a rival ad agency about running McCann, said the WSJ, quoting several people familiar with the matter. Brien declined to comment.
"We do not comment on rumor and speculation," said Interpublic chief executive Michael Roth.
"McCann is a great brand —we'll continue to support its clients and invest in talent to drive further progress in the agency's transformation. The deep management team that McCann has in place around the world puts it on strong footing for future success."
Roth appointed Brien to run McCann in early 2010, hoping the charismatic Brit could shake up the troubled division. Brien had helped fix Interpublic's media-buying operations when that business was struggling.
But McCann in New York has been slow to win new accountts. "I think it's fair to say that the turnaround at McCann hasn't happened yet," said Bill Bird, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets.
McCann's full-year revenue is likely to be around $2.2 billion, down about 10% since Brien took over.
Brien joined Interpublic after a long career at Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett and Starcom, Before joining SMG, he was CEO of Leo Burnett London, which under his leadership, was named the world's most creative agency by The Gunn Report.
Brien started his career at Grey London . He has been a Director of The Advertising Council, Inc. since August 2010.
Business Week says that Brien whose salary is in excess of $1 million has a $4.2 Million golden parachute If he leaves.
One report said Brien is more famous for having the most expensive car and driver bill (nearly $16,000 a year).of any agency CEO in New York than he is for winning new clients .
L’Oréal – accounting for about 20% of McCann's operating profit.- is said to be poised to take a considerable amount of its creative work in house, dropping one of its two global agencies.
The son of a German mother and Australian father Brien has described himself as "extremely competitive," saying good management is about "bold decisions, making bets and taking calculated risks."
Said AdAge after he arrived in New York, , "If Nick Brien were still living in his native Britain, he'd probably be on TV hosting one of the country's popular shows about how to turn around a struggling business. Instead, he's been toiling since July in the canyons of New York as CEO of Mediabrands, a new umbrella unit at Interpublic Group of Cos. "
Speaking from the McCann’s London head office in July , where an Olympic themed party was held, inviting staff and clients to celebrate the build-up to the Games, Brien highlighted the pride in the team working on the Olympics.
He told the Drum,: “The Olympic Games has been one of the most exciting and challenging projects.
" I am most proud of the fact that we are doing something for society, for the country and it’s brought a huge amount of pride to the organisation and the level of collaboration - I’ve never seen anything like it during my time working in the company. I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve achieved."