Is Kirk McDonald, North American CEO at GroupM, leaving?

Kirk McDonald, a veteran ad executive who has served as the face of WPP‘s large GroupM media buying consortium to U.S. advertisers, is leaving the company as it once again sets about to refashion its executive ranks.

McDonald, who joined GroupM in 2020 after a stint at the ad-tech unit known as Xandr, is set to leave at the end of 2023, the WPP unit confirmed Monday.

“Leading GroupM North America has been an enormous privilege. You are passionate and uncompromising in your pursuit of excellence,” McDonald said in a memo to staffers Monday. “It’s been an honor to be a part of this team leading the way forward with the best in the industry, and a joy to have learned so much from all of you.” There has been speculation in the industry for some time that McDonald might leap to a different executive opportunity.

McDonald is the latest senior executive at GroupM to leave. The WPP unit, one of the most influential buyers of advertising inventory in the industry, has continued to churn through top management at its North American operations. McDonald replaced Christian Juhl, who is also the company’s global CEO, who in turn took the reins from Tim Castree, who left the company in 2018.

McDonald will be replaced by Adam Gehart, who has been at GroupM and Mindshare in various roles for nearly 20 years. He currently serves as Global CEO for Mindshare, one of GroupM’s media buying agencies, and was a former CEO for Mindshare’s U.S. operations.

“I understand leadership transitions can be difficult,” Gehart said in a memo. “Know that I, and the rest of our leadership team in North America, are committed to moving forward and upholding the legacy of leadership, industry stewardship, and client service that have made GroupM such a force in marketing and advertising.”

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