Initiative Names New Leadership Team Headed by Its First U.S. CEO

IPG network promotes Amy Armstrong of BPN

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Initiative, a communications agency within the IPG Mediabrands network, announced a newly reorganized U.S. executive management team for 2017.

Leading that group will be Amy Armstrong, former president of IPG media network BPN. Armstrong’s new role, effective immediately, makes her Initiative’s first-ever U.S. CEO, reporting directly to global chief executive Mat Baxter. Armstrong will be supported by three regional presidents: Kris Magel on the East Coast, Chris Actis in the Midwest and a West Coast president whose name will be announced once IPG finalizes his or her hire.

“This is a thrilling time for our agency. We are recalibrating Initiative to lead our industry into the future,” said Baxter, a Mediabrands veteran who took over for Initiative chairman Jim Elms last summer. “Our new executive structure is the final piece of this cultural transformation. Amy and our regional presidents will bring their areas of expertise together to ensure our clients find new ways to connect with consumers.”

Armstrong has spent 20 years with the larger IPG organization including more than a decade with ID Media in New York and Los Angeles. She began her career as a media planner at FCB.

In the new role, she will help promote Initiative’s revised offering, described as “cultural branding and communications design” rather than traditional media buying and planning. The agency also looks to strengthen its positioning ahead of a series of account reviews set to take place in 2017.

“I am proud to lead Initiative in the U.S. at this exciting time,” said Armstrong in a statement. “Initiative will bring a new philosophy and business model to our clients, partners and employees.”

Magel has been with Initiative since 2008 and recently helped handle media assignments for new clients Uber and Spin Master. Actis joined Initiative last year after serving as president of the Asia Pacific region for Neo@Ogilvy, the digital media and performance marketing wing of Ogilvy & Mather.

Today’s news marks the latest in a series of changes within Interpublic’s media wing. Last month, the holding company announced plans to fold Armstrong’s former agency BPN into Initiative after key client Tyson Foods moved its $135 million media buying account to Mindshare following a competitive review. BPN will remain an independent brand within the IPG network, but all of its teams now report to Initiative.

Last week, the holding company also launched a new global social/digital agency called Mediabrands Society, which will focus more directly on creating content for clients. IPG spent much of 2016 building Society, one of several groups designed to supplement its primary media agencies UM and Initiative with services related to specific disciplines. As part of that transition, the latter organization’s first global chief creative officer Nick Childs will hold the same role at Society.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.