CPB has tapped GSD&M President Marianne Malina to be its new global CEO. The appointment is the agency’s latest move to rebuild, following major account losses of Infiniti and Domino’s as well as the departure of key execs, including former global CEO Erik Sollenberg, over the past year.
Malina is a long-time vet of GSD&M and started her tenure there in 2005, rising the ranks from creative managing director to president, a role in which she has served since 2012.
John Boiler, chair at MDC’s Constellation and co-founder of 72andSunny, describes Malina as a “force of nature. There’s a reason why GSD&M has the stickiest relationship with clients—that’s Marianne. She’s the chief client whisperer and she’s so passionate about clients and their business. Not only can they pitch and win, but they retain more than any other agency I’ve seen. That will be a really important strand to add to the DNA of CPB.”
Moreover, Boiler says, her turnaround experience will be crucial for rebooting the MDC shop. “When her agency lost AT&T, she was tasked with rebuilding, which she did. She’s got incredible character, is decisive and quick to take action. That’s one of the things CPB will need going forward because as everything is so disrupted now, you’ve got to pivot and move quickly.”
As for why she’s decided to make the leap, “Why not?” Malina says. “I’m a builder. I’m not a manager. The bigger the problem, the more I’m interested. What CPB has done for the ad industry in this century is epic. Every single person in this industry is using a page from their playbook. An agency that changes the way we do business, that’s what’s at the core of this brand. You put that into today’s culture, what’s going on now, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.”
“We welcome Marianne to the growing MDC family,” said Mark Penn, Chairman and CEO of MDC Partners in a statement. “CPB has always stood for disruptive and effective marketing, and this appointment underscores our commitment to bringing the agency every resource it needs to grow and succeed.”
Boiler says that crucial to the agency’s positioning for the future will be a collective leadership model that includes Malina and Chief Creative Officer Jorge Calleja, who joined the agency from Activision in December. “We’re bringing a bunch of creators together who have a proven ability to make awesome things. Marianne is not a suit. She’s a creative thinker and doer. Jorge has a lot of great relationships and is tapped into a deep A-list of creative talent.”
It’s also important for CPB to move from, yet build on, its storied past under co-founder Alex Bogusky. “This is no longer a cult of personality,” Boiler says. “This is a group of dedicated creative people.”
The new leadership is looking to build out a “distributed” model of talent for CPB. While some staffers will be based out of the new office in Denver, talent may also be based outside of Colorado. Malina herself will continue to serve from Austin, for example.
“One of the benefits of this pandemic is that every person in this business has accepted that you can work from anywhere,” Malina says. “All of us who work in advertising have always worked from anywhere, so we’re going to be able to capture that spirit and use it to attract talent.”
The agency will continue to have its main hubs in Denver, London and Brazil but will grow each through its distributed talent model around the world. “It’s not about where you’re located,” Malina says,. “It’s how you work. In today’s world, people want to be able to live a whole life and this gives us an option to allow them to do exactly that.”