IPG Names Media Head

Troubled agency network Interpublic Group (IPG) has recruited a media honcho from that paragon of youth entertainment, MTV Networks. The company says Mark Rosenthal will help it craft a “next generation” media offering.

Rosenthal joins as chairman and CEO of IPG’s media operations, a newly created position. He’ll be charged with governing IPG’s worldwide media operations, including Initiative, MAGNA Global, Universal and several specialist media firms. Many of these units do interactive work.

Rosenthal led MTVN as president and chief operating officer for nearly ten years, departing at the end of 2004. He had been with MTVN and its predecessor company for a total of 22 years. During that time, he is credited for extending the company’s entertainment brands into other media, including the Internet.

“Mark brings an unusual combination of talents in that he has exceptional operational skills and a real vision as to the future of media, which is becoming an increasingly important part of our business,” said IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth, in a statement.

He joins at an especially difficult for IPG. The holding company just lost the $3.5 billion-plus General Motors account, after having been dealt several other body blows in recent months. It lost parts of its Nestlé and Unilever assignments, and an accounting scandal in April was IPG’s second in two years. Several executives left in the wake of that embarrassment.

Interpublic may look to Rosenthal for guidance on digital media strategy. Conventional wisdom holds that interactive is an afterthought within IPG’s culture. MTVN, on the other hand, has been largely cheered for its focus on online channels. Its lack of a broadband V.O.D. offering has been an exception, but the network is now trying to rectify that with Overdrive, announced this spring.

Rosenthal said, “While there is a great deal that needs to be done operationally to bring Interpublic’s media assets together, I am confident we will now be able to offer a distinctive and coordinated set of capabilities to our clients…I look forward to seeing us innovate in key areas such as media measurement and research.”

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