Dentsu Aegis Network US names Doug Ray president, product and innovation, plus Michael Epstein as Carat CEO

Michael Epstein and Doug Ray

Dentsu Aegis Network US has today (February 8) announced that its chief executive officer for Carat in the US Doug Ray is to become its first president of product and innovation, and that current chief client officer Michael Epstein will be his successor.

In his newly created role, Ray will drive Dentsu Aegis' holistic product agenda, helping to up-sell capabilities across the agency network, plus lead the development of integrated client solutions. He will have a particular focus on developing data-led products - a role which will include working closely with digital specialist arm Merkle (an outfit Dentsu took a significant stake in last year) to better promote its capabilities to clients across the group.

Meanwhile Epstein, who was most recently Carat’s president as well as CCO, has played an active role in winning new business and also helped propel the agency’s double-digit growth in that time. Under Ray and Epstein’s leadership, in the last six years, Carat has more than doubled agency revenue, winning clients including: Danone; Diageo; General Motors; Macy's; Mondelez; P&G; The JM Smucker Company; Pfizer Consumer Healthcare; and Darden's LongHorn.

Rob Horler, Dentsu Aegis Network's US CEO, said: “Our US business has doubled in size in the last 18 months through a combination of new business, organic growth and strategic M&A. At the same time, clients are looking to us to make a complex marketing ecosystem more simple. Having Doug in a group role, focused on client solutions and leading product and innovation ensures we have the leadership in place to work with clients to manage the complexity and deliver solutions."

He added: “Since joining Carat, Michael has continuously proven himself as a strong leader, gifted operator and trusted counselor to both clients and colleagues. As Carat continues its mission to redefine media, Michael’s track record of driving growth and delivering meaningful client business results make him the natural choice to lead Carat in its next phase."

Ray’s appointment follows a particularly active year for purchase activity from Dentsu Aegis, which acquired a total of five US-headquartered outfits in 2016 including: Accordant; C2C Outdoor; Cardinal Path; Gravity and gyro.

In October, Dentsu Aegis also tapped Patrick Venetucci as its first president of operations and integration, who is now responsible for leading operations and driving continued growth across the US, as well as stewarding the holistic integration of its newly acquired units.

"Innovation is more critical today than ever before. It is the only path to transformational growth and this is why we've made it central to Carat's and our clients' business agendas. I'm energized by the opportunity to now leverage the unique assets of our entire network to create further competitive advantage for our clients and, in turn, for Dentsu Aegis Network," added Ray.

"The role of media to drive change and transformation for businesses has never been greater than it is today. With our investments and expertise in people-based planning and data-driven marketing communications, Carat is well-placed to help clients navigate today's digital economy," said Epstein.

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