NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller has hired Thomas Gensemer, managing partner and CEO at fellow WPP Group firm Blue State Digital, as its US chief strategy officer.
Gensemer will be based in Burson's New York office and will focus on developing integrated campaigns, product offerings, and thought-leadership strategies. He will report to US CEO Dave DenHerder.
Blue State Digital co-founder Joe Rospars has replaced Gensemer in the CEO role.
Gensemer has led Blue State Digital since 2005, working on a range of political campaigns nationally and globally and advising corporations and NGOs. From 1999 to 2003, he was a principal at The Accelerator Group, a venture capital fund with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and London.
DenHerder noted that he and Gensemer had worked together on WPP's Ford account.
“[Gensemer] is one of the most creative and strategic people in our business,” DenHerder said.
WPP acquired Blue State Digital, then largely known for its work on the Obama for America 2008 campaign, in January 2011. The holding company further bulked up its public affairs roster by buying Glover Park Group later that year.
Blue State Digital hired 16 strategists and technologists from the president's successful re-election campaign earlier this year.
Gensemer also serves on the World Economic Forum councils on the future of government and social media, the advisory board of the YMCA of New York City, and the board of the It Gets Better Project.
Gensemer said he was drawn to Burson's global nature and client roster. About picking his next role, he said, “I didn't want to be just the digital guy.”Burson has made a number of high-level leadership changes in the past 12 months. A year ago, it replaced departing CEO Mark Penn with Donald Baer, previously the firm's chief strategy officer. Two months later, Baer named Patrick Pryzbyski to a dual role as agency COO and CFO. It also brought on former StrategyOne leader Steve Lombardo to lead its combined US public affairs and crisis practice in April.