NEW YORK: Weber Shandwick named Gail Heimann president and chief strategy officer on Wednesday.
Heimann most recently served as Weber's vice chair. She was also chief judge of the PR Jury at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity last year.
Heimann has replaced Andy Polansky as president. Polansky was promoted to CEO in November when previous chief executive Harris Diamond was named CEO of McCann Worldgroup, an advertising network at parent company Interpublic Group. Heimann will report directly to Polansky.
“The key for me is to focus on creating strong strategy and strong creative and the kind of work that is multichannel and multiplatform and can deliver on clients' business goals,” said Heimann. “That's something I've always focused on, but I'm going to be doing it in a bigger way and across regions globally, focusing on our key clients.”
In her new role, Heimann will work with the firm's practice leaders and teams to enhance its services, specialties, and products.
She has spent nearly two decades at the Interpublic Group agency. In her most recent role, Heimann helped to develop, strategize, and manage campaigns for brands working with various Weber divisions, such as consumer healthcare, consumer technology, and food and beverage. She has worked on initiatives for Unilever brands Suave, Q-Tips, Pond's, and Ragu, as well as with companies such as KFC, Ocean Spray Cranberries, and Electrolux. She was appointed co-president of the agency's consumer marketing practice in 2001.
Weber has “no plans at this point” to replace the vice chair and CFO roles, the agency said in a statement.
Weber also promoted CFO Frank Okunak to COO on Wednesday. He will oversee Weber's financial and administrative operations globally. Prior to joining Weber in 1995, Okunak worked at Federated Department Stores, where he served as VP of financial planning and reporting. Before that, he was planning manager for the retail consulting division of Arthur Andersen.
Last week, WPP Group agencies Burson-Marsteller and Ogilvy Public Relations also made high-level executive changes.
Burson named Ogilvy & Mather West President Michael Law to serve in the newly created role of US president as of February 1. The firm also appointed Racepoint Group EVP and GM Bill Orr to serve as EVP in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Ogilvy promoted Robert Mathias to regional CEO for North America. Nathan Friedman, MD of Ogilvy PR Chicago, was also promoted to regional MD of Ogilvy PR West, replacing Law.
This article was updated on January 30 with quotes from Heimann.