King Thomas’ Worldgroup Return Has a Familiar Ring to It

Another McCann veteran takes prominent role

That didn’t take long. 

It has been just a month since McCann Worldgroup’s new CEO Harris Diamond replaced Nick Brien and Joyce King Thomas, McCann Erickson’s former New York creative chief, is back in the fold. King Thomas was one of the first McCann New York veterans to jump or get pushed after Brien became CEO in April 2010. A month after Brien officially took on his new role, King Thomas confirmed she would leave at the end of 2010.

Now, she is returning as president of McCann ExtraBoldCondensed, a new shop created for MasterCard, one of the agency’s largest global clients. It’s an account King Thomas knows well, having been a co-creator of the marketer’s long-running "Priceless" campaign in 1997. There were persistent reports this year that MasterCard had reached out to other agencies for ideas but in an interview with Adweek last summer, MasterCard CMO Alfredo Gangotena, denied he was unhappy with the Interpublic Group agency. 

The return of King Thomas, who was McCann New York's CCO from 2004-2010, is a signal to McCann clients that the agency is returning to its more traditional strengths after Brien’s dramatic recasting efforts sought to create a new sensibility within one of the industry’s most hide-bound cultures.

Brien created a buzz when he made the unlikely choice of naming Mother New York co-founder Linus Karlsson as King Thomas’s replacement in November 2010. But the move resulted in few new business wins and little talked-about work. In May, Karlsson, who was also CCO of the London office, and fellow Swede Andreas Dahlqvist–hired as vice chairman and ecd in N.Y.–were moved out of those jobs to vaguely-defined global roles, while two other McCann creative vets, Sean Bryan and Tom Murphy, took creative control of the New York agency as co-CCOs.

McCann XBC will coordinate the efforts of all IPG shops that work on MasterCard, including McCann, R/GA, Octagon, UM and MRM in 112 countries. The unit will be based in New York.

In addition to King Thomas, McCann XBC's leadership team will include Richard O’Leary, who is global account director on the business and becomes managing director, and Devika Bulchandani, who has been managing director for global strategy and is now global strategy director. The unit will report to Luca Lindner, president, Americas, Middle East and Africa, for Worldgroup.