Burson US CEO DenHerder to step down; Law promoted to US chief exec

Dave DenHerder, US CEO of Burson-Marsteller, will step down from his role on September 1. US president Michael Law will succeed him.

(L-R): DenHerder, Law
(L-R): DenHerder, Law

NEW YORK: Dave DenHerder, US CEO of Burson-Marsteller, will step down from his role on September 1. US president Michael Law will succeed him.

DenHerder, who has served as US chief executive since 2012, will remain with Burson and parent company WPP as a senior counselor. He will continue to be based in Washington, DC and to serve as WPP’s global client lead for Ford Motor Company.

While DenHerder will focus on Ford, he will also work on other key client relationships, said Burson-Marsteller worldwide chair and CEO Donald Baer. DenHerder will continue to report to Baer.

"We’re very happy to continue to have [DenHerder] working with us," said Baer. "We’re also very fortunate that we have [Law], who has been our US president for the last year and a half and brings two decades of experience with his work all over the world with Ogilvy PR."

DenHerder said he will concentrate on helping Law with the CEO transition and working with the global WPP Ford team. Eventually he will focus on the development of his own clients, particularly in the political and grassroots sectors, leveraging Burson and WPP services when possible, he said.

Law, who will report to Baer in his new role, will remain in the firm’s San Francisco office.

As part of Burson’s US growth strategy, Law said he wants to differentiate the firm’s offerings in sustainability and environmental issues. Hiring the best talent in the US will also be a priority, he added.

The agency will continue to work on a "three-prong strategy" for the US that focuses on talent, the modernization of traditional offerings and practices, and innovation, Baer said. Baer, DenHerder, and Law began implementing that strategy a few years ago.

Prior to being promoted to US CEO in 2012, DenHerder was CEO of Direct Impact, Burson’s grassroots public affairs and corporate reputation subsidiary, since 2007. He joined Direct Impact in 2005 as COO.

Before that, DenHerder served as regional political director for the 2004 Bush/Cheney presidential campaign and White House liaison and special assistant to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. He was also Iowa field director for the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2000.

Law joined Burson last year in the newly created role of US president, reporting to DenHerder. He previously spent two decades at Ogilvy, most recently as Ogilvy & Mather West president.

In the last few months, Burson has made a number of executive appointments, including Stephen Burns as MD in its US public affairs and crisis practice; Ann Davison as chair of the US public affairs and crisis practice; and Alan Sexton and Tom Dowling to US corporate and US consumer and brand marketing practice chairs, respectively.

Former White House broadcast media director Dag Vega will also join the public affairs practice as MD on August 4.

Last week, sister WPP agency Hill+Knowlton Strategies also saw changes to its executive leadership team with US president and CEO Andy Weitz set to leave the firm later this summer. The firm named Mike Coates, chairman and CEO of H+K Canada, as chief executive of the Americas region, effective immediately.

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