Most-read of 2021: Agencies

The appointments, departures and business wins that got the most attention from reader's this year.

GroupM Canada picks Kevin Johnson as new CEO

After Stuart Garvie left his post in October as CEO of GroupM’s operations in Canada, WPP’s media group turned to Mediacom’s Kevin Johnson to step up into the role. Just before the appointment was made official, MiC spoke to Johnson about the company’s plans for the year ahead, including growth goals and finding ways to support its people as they navigate the next phase of the pandemic.

Johnson was a logical choice for GroupM’s top position in Canada. After leading RECMA’s ranking in Canada in 2020, the agency continued on its streak of new business wins this year, with the likes of Sunwing and Psycho Bunny joining the massive OLG account.

Devon MacDonald leaves Mindshare Canada

The first of what would end up being several leadership departures at Canada’s media agencies came in January when CEO Devon MacDonald left the agency. No reason was given for his departure; previously Mindshare’s chief strategy officer, MacDonald had assumed CEO duties in 2018 following Karen Nayler’s retirement.

In the summer, MacDonald had found himself another leadership position: president of independent Cairns Oneil. The agency’s co-founders brought MacDonald on not only to drive growth at the agency, but to add a “digital-first leader” to grow and strengthen a practice that now represents upwards of 70% of its investment.

Dentsu hires a trio of new VPs

It was a busy year for Dentsu Media on the personnel front, especially in cross-agency roles. In addition to these VPs we covered in the summer, the company brought new leaders into its c-suite and senior ranks, while also promoting others to boost capabilities and promote collaborations between Dentsu’s agencies in Canada. The agency also launched new service offerings and picked up new business, including the global Manulife account.

It wasn’t all hires and promotions at Dentsu this year, though: last Friday was the last day for Alex Panousis, CEO and chair of Dentsu Media Canada.

Government of Ontario names vendors of record

There was no shortage of big media accounts up for grabs this year, both within Canada and at the global level. But the one that got the most attention from MiC readers was the Government of Ontario, which moved from an AOR to “vendor of record” model in July. Similar to how business was previously awarded on the creative front, a pre-approved list of vendors would be able to pitch assignments from different government ministries, agencies and crown corps.

For media planning and buying, the nine VORs were Carat, Cossette Media, Cundari, Initiative, Media Experts, Mediacom, OMD, PHD and Wavemaker. Carat, Cundari, Media Experts and OMD were also among the digital and social media planning and buying VORs, a separate list that also includes Accenture, Dandelion, Magnet, MightyHive and Reprise.

Wes Wolch is leaving Cossette Media to go client-side

Wes Wolch made the client-side jump after nearly four years with Cossette Media in January, leaving his role as the agency’s chief strategy officer to become Holt Renfrew’s new SVP of marketing. He took over marketing duties from Rochelle Ezekiel, who had departed the luxury retailer the previous summer.

Back at Cossette Media, VP of analytics and insight Kristin Wozniak was elevated to a new SVP of analytics, insight and strategy role following Wolch’s departure. A few months later, the agency hired three new VPs, a story that also got a fair bit of attention from MiC readers.