WPP expands public affairs reach in Canada

TORONTO: Two of Hill & Knowlton Canada's top executives were recently tapped to lead a new public affairs division at sister agency GCI Canada, as part of a strategy by WPP to expand its public affairs reach in Canada.

TORONTO: Two of Hill & Knowlton Canada's top executives were recently tapped to lead a new public affairs division at sister agency GCI Canada, as part of a strategy by WPP to expand its public affairs reach in Canada.
GCI's new public affairs division will be led by Calgary-based Ken Boessenkool, who was national practice director of public affairs at H&K Canada. He will be joined by former H&K colleague Jamie Carroll, who will assume the role of VP from Ottawa.

Michael Coates, president and CEO of H&K Canada, said WPP is “looking to expand its market presence in public affairs, and you can't do that without giving up two of your best. What I had to do was bring in two other top-flight, high-quality people to H&K.” Those two people are Ian Brodie, former chief-of-staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2008, and David Collenette, former minister of national defense. Both will serve as senior counsellor.

Marion MacKenzie, president of GCI Canada, said the new division was “accelerated” by the fact that, in October, the agency became part of the H&K network of agencies. “I'd been thinking about opening a public affairs practice over the last three years,” said MacKenzie. “Most of our clients, even if they are in the consumer space, face regulatory, environmental, packaging, stakeholder, and product safety issues.”

Boessenkool is well-known in political circles, having been a policy advisor and strategist to Prime Minister Harper. In an e-mail to PRWeek, he said, “[It's] an amazing opportunity to build something new from the ground up in a market where there is lots of work to go around.”

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