Diamonds are wherever…

16 Nov,2012

Left: Harris Diamond, Right top: Gustavo Martinez, Right bottom: Luca Lindner

 

By A Correspondent

 

Imagine the head of a large Indian PR agency being appointed CEO of his network’s well-known creative agency? You can’t dream of such an eventuality in India, but not so in the United States of America, where public relations hasn’t hit the bottom of the pyramid as it has here in India.

 

On Tuesday, November 13, the Interpublic Group announced a series of top management changes at McCann Worldgroup:  Harris Diamond was moved from being Chairman and CEO of IPG’s Constituency Management Group (CMG, which includes Weber Shandwick) to a similar role at McCann Worldgroup, replacing Nick Brien. A new, three-person office of the Chairman has been created which will have Mr Diamond along with Luca Lindner and Gustavo Martinez who have assigned bigger roles with geographic and operational responsibilities.

 

McCann Erickson is the dominant unit of McCann Worldgroup which also includes UM, Weber Shandwick, Momentum, MRM, Craft Worldwide, McCann Health and Future Brand.

 

Prasoon Joshi

What does this mean for India? Not much. Except that until Tuesday, Prasoon Joshi as head of McCann in South Asia reported directly to CEO Nick Brien will now relate with Mr Martinez who takes charge of Asia-Pacific in addition to Europe. Mr Diamond told a Campaign Asia journalist that he had been in touch with Mr Joshi.

 

Part of the reason why the office of the Chairman has been created is reportedly Mr Diamond’s background of being a Public Relations maven. Widely regarded as among the top 10 PR practitioners in the world, Mr Diamond role at CMG and Weber Shandwick specificially has received several accolades.

 

His appointment to McCann is significant as he’s possibly the first true blue Public Relations professional taking charge of a large, global creative advertising company.  For IPG, industry observers say, it’s all about managing a communications firm, keeping costs under control, maintaining  a disciplined organization and most importantly: get in sync with the customer’s future strategy.

 

Reasoned a former colleague David Brain: “In the era of enfranchised consumer and stakeholder and when everyone now ‘gets’ the need to engage and change strategy based on the long term needs of stakeholders and consumers, it is PR thinking not advertising thinking that is best placed to succeed.  Note, I’m labeling advertising thinking as the problem, not necessarily advertising agencies.”

 

Mr Diamonds work appears cut out. Along with Messrs Lindner and Martinez plus Linus Karlsoon and Daryl Lee, global creative and strategy officers respectively who will take charge of the day-to-day operations of the agency, he needs to first ensure that people do not use ‘ailing’ as a descriptor for McCann Erickson.

 

PR Week magazine reports on how in the 11 years that Mr Diamond led Weber Shandwick, he created a “powerhouse that had other shops looking over their shoulders”. The magazine’s website notes: “Contemporaries in the industry said he was a visionary who led his firm to be one of the most successful in the country.”

 

Mr Diamond has the reputation of being cost-conscious and Mr Brain has this view: “My top tip for anyone at McCann who will be meeting Harris in the next few days and weeks is make sure you know how to forecast your revenues; make sure you know your cost base; make sure you are intimately connected with your clients and their needs and make sure you do quality work, because he can sniff BS a mile away!”

 

Will Harris Diamond shine where Nick Brien didn’t. After all, Mr Brien too came with the reputation of being a successful Universal McCann captain and very customer-focussed. Guess time will tell.

 

There are many people watching.  The success of this appointment could well see winds of change blowing across adland and the entire world of marketing communications.

 

And to the world of PR professionals in India: fingers crossed. It could well be your time soon!

 

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