Future Microsoft holding aQuantive has promoted Clark Kokich to lead its Avenue A / Razorfish global agency unit as chief executive officer, a newly created position.
An employee of Avenue A / Razorfish for eight years, Kokich will continue to handle many of the same chores he’s performed for years as worldwide president, including operational oversight and M&A pursuits. Yet while the arrangement changes neither Kokich’s duties nor the agency network’s reporting structure — he’ll still answer to aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews — it may help ease the concerns of some advertising clients.
Since Microsoft agreed in May to buy aQuantive for $6 billion, analysts and digital marketers have commented on the potential conflicts of interest raised by Avenue A / Razorfish’s proximity to Microsoft’s media, search and ad technology holdings. Some have called for Microsoft to spin the agency division off into a separate company, an option Redmond has rejected. Rather, said a spokesperson, “We believe Avenue A / Razorish must remain at arm’s length from Microsoft, to maintain impartiality for our clients.”
Projecting that impartiality could be undertaken in myriad ways, including by restructuring aQuantive so that Avenue A / Razorfish is not aligned closely with Atlas, with DrivePM or with Microsoft’s other advertising interests.
AQuantive’s spokesperson declined to comment on whether such a reorg is in the works, but she did say that creating a new CEO spot at the agency for Kokich will help reduce employee and client concerns about conflicts of interest.
She added plenty of other factors led to the promotion, including Kokich’s seniority, his merit and the desire to “mirror our intent to aggressively expand Avenue A / Razorfish globally.”
Kokich was hired in 1999 as VP and general manager of Avenue A’s growth markets division, long before the firm changed its name to aQuantive or acquired SBI.Razorfish for $160 million. In the intervening years he held numerous posts, including president of digital marketing solutions in Seattle, president of Avenue A/Seattle and Chicago, president of Avenue A / Razorfish West and eventually, worldwide president, a job he’s had almost two years.
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