Facebook Hires New Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa

New U.K. advisory group focuses on need to prove advertising ROI at inaugural meeting

Facebook has appointed one of U.K. advertising’s most high-profile players as the social network’s new head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa: Nicola Mendelsohn, executive chairman of the Karmarama agency and a former president of the U.K.-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Before joining Karmarama, in which she retains her stake, Mendelsohn held senior positions at Grey and BBH. Overseeing a team of 1,000, Mendelsohn will report to Carolyn Everson, global vp of global marketing solutions.

Mendelsohn, considered a pragmatic IPA president, will need that quality to tackle Facebook’s challenges in the U.K., its second biggest geographical market. Nielsen estimates that Facebook usage has plateaued in the U.K., with 26 million visitors in March, the same as a year ago.

At the recent inaugural meeting of Facebook’s U.K. advisory group, which includes representatives from Unilever and Coca-Cola, Adweek learned that talk was dominated by the need to prove the ROI of Facebook advertising.

Everson said Facebook has "a wonderful story to tell, but I don’t think we are doing the best job at landing our story." She said Mendlesohn brings "outstanding leadership and passion for what Facebook can do to become an indispensable partner for our clients and agencies throughout the region."

Mendelsohn also recently challenged WPP chief Martin Sorrell’s assertion that Facebook is a branding, not advertising, medium.

“Facebook is already an advertising medium but it also an evolving one,” she told Adweek in March. “The platform has connected a billion people across the planet so far and the mobile uptake has been nothing short of phenomenal. Brands have always wanted to be where consumers are and consumers today are on Facebook.” 

The 41-year-old Mendelsohn, a mother of four who has championed the right of mothers to work flexible hours, replaces Joanna Shields, who left Facebook in January. Shields now leads the Tech City Investment Organization, the U.K. government's attempt to create a Silicon Valley of technology businesses in London.

Diminutive, personable, articulate and driven, Mendelsohn has enjoyed a meteoric rise in U.K. adland in the past three years. A leading member of the Jewish community in London, Mendelsohn is highly connected, serving as co-chair of the government's Creative Industries Council and as a commentator on Sky News, a channel partially owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

During her tenure at the IPA, Mendelsohn led a U.K. ad agency delegation on a fact-finding mission to Silicon Valley.