Kirk McDonald, North America CEO for media agency GroupM, plans to step down by the end of the year.
The news was relayed to employees Monday morning by GroupM Global CEO Christian Juhl. (Read his internal memo below.) With McDonald remaining onboard as a search begins for his replacement, Juhl said Adam Gerhart, a 20-year veteran of GroupM and its corporate sibling, Mindshare, will serve as interim North America CEO.
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McDonald spent three years in the top post, perhaps the most turbulent stretch in the modern history of advertising. After navigating the pandemic, he then faced a choppy ad market that saw even longtime stalwarts like Facebook and Google post declining results.
Prior to joining GroupM, which is owned by UK giant WPP, McDonald racked up significant experience in digital media, with senior exec roles at Time Inc. and NET. He also worked at AT&T and its ad-tech unit, Xandr.
“Leading GroupM North America has been an enormous privilege. You are passionate and uncompromising in your pursuit of excellence,” McDonald said to staffers. “It’s been an honor to be a part of this team leading the way forward with the best in the industry, and a joy to have learned so much from all of you.”
Here is Juhl’s memo to employees:
Hello GroupM North America,
After three years driving significant change and progress across our business, Kirk McDonald has decided to step down from his role as North America CEO and leave GroupM at the end of the year.
I’d like to thank Kirk for his many contributions to our company. 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.
While Kirk will be with us through the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition, I’m pleased to share that Mindshare’s Global CEO Adam Gerhart will take on additional duties as interim CEO for GroupM North America as we undertake a formal search for Kirk’s replacement. Adam knows our business extremely well, having originally started his career with us in New York and taking on a wide range of roles before becoming US CEO for Mindshare in 2016, and Global CEO in 2021. He’s worked closely with many members of the NA leadership team already and I’m confident in the strategic guidance he will provide during this transition.
I hope that you will join me in thanking Kirk and wishing him the best for the future. While we will miss him as he moves on to pursue his next challenge in the new year, we are fortunate to have such a strong leadership team in place for the region.
Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our clients throughout the year. I look forward to seeing as many of you as I can either in the office or in upcoming town halls.
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