MSLGroup Chicago consumer practice co-lead exits to launch startup

Catherine Merritt is departing the firm after one year. She is also a veteran of Olson and Ketchum.

CHICAGO: The co-lead of MSLGroup Chicago’s consumer practice, SVP Catherine Merritt, has exited the firm after about one year to launch her own startup.

Merritt was one of two leads of MSLGroup’s consumer practice in Chicago. Her co-lead was Eileen Ziesemer, also an SVP and now the sole consumer practice lead for the office.  

"We wish [Merritt] all of the best as she moves on to an entrepreneurial opportunity and the world of consulting," said Amy Cheronis, MD of MSLGroup Chicago, via email.

Cheronis said Merritt will not be replaced.

Merritt left MSLGroup on Tuesday. In an Instagram post earlier this week, she explained that she plans to launch a startup that includes "consulting, hustling, and [the] best part: hanging out with my boys more at home."

Merritt said she is departing MSLGroup to launch two ventures: a consultancy and Finnbin, a company inspired by the Finnish tradition of providing a sleeper for newborns and hand-selected products for new parents.

"I believe there are a lot of ways I can help startups bring rigor and formalized approaches I have used for clients in the agency world," she said. "I think there are also ways larger corporations and companies can benefit from some of that agility and hustle that exists within the startup world."

Merritt joined MSLGroup last October and played a "pivotal role in defining office culture, motivating employees, and growing new and organic business," according to her LinkedIn account.

Previously, she was a VP at Olson for nearly four years and a digital strategist at Ketchum. Earlier in her career, Merritt handled global and corporate PR for Morton’s the Steakhouse.

Earlier this year, Publicis Groupe merged the reputation and communications practice of creative shop Leo Burnett with MSLGroup Chicago. MSLGroup Chicago staffers moved into the Leo Burnett Building, alongside agencies such as Leo Burnett, Arc, and Starcom Mediavest Group.

This story was updated on December 9 with comment from Merritt.

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