Burson adds West Coast leadership with Law, Orr

NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller has turned its attention westward with two executive hires that will be based in San Francisco.

NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller has turned its attention westward with two executive hires that will be based in San Francisco.

Burson appointed Ogilvy & Mather West President Michael Law to serve in the newly created role of US president as of February 1 in an effort to bolster the firm's West Coast presence.

Law will report to Burson US CEO Dave DenHerder. The move will help the firm strengthen its management structure across the country, DenHerder said.

“If you look at it right now, and I don't think this is unique to Burson, it's really heavy on the East Coast — Washington, DC, and New York — that's where the leadership sits, and I wanted to expand that,” he said.

Burson also appointed Racepoint Group EVP and GM Bill Orr as EVP in San Francisco. Orr will report to DenHerder, as well, and work with the US leadership team.

“[Law] specifically and [Orr] to a large extent will have wide US roles, and I'm going to  need them to focus on that. We're bringing new talent to the West Coast, and that's something that has been important to me,” DenHerder added. “We're a US-wide firm, and I want my leadership represented that way.”

He said bringing on both Law and Orr is a part of a larger growth plan for Burson that focuses on expanding its leadership footprint across its US network. DenHerder said promoting both Erica Swerdlow from Midwest market leader and Nicole Cornish from CEO of the Direct Impact grassroots unit to EVPs of the firm's Midwest region in October was also part of the strategy, as was naming Southwest public affairs leader Matt Burns Southwest market leader.

Law, a two-decade Ogilvy veteran who spent the last nine years in California, said he sees the environment, land use, sustainability, and water as major issues on the West Coast. He added that he wants to make sure the firm takes “a broad view of the West, beyond just California” that stretches to states such as Colorado.

In addition to his focus on the West Coast, Law said he wants the firm to delve deeper into data analytics.

“That is completely consistent with Burson's evidence-based approach,” explained DenHerder. “We don't go by just our gut — it's evidence-based and decisions are driven by data.”

Orr, who worked at Racepoint for a little more than two years, will work to grow Burson's technology and consumer marketing sectors, he added.

On Thursday, Ogilvy promoted Nathan Friedman, MD of Ogilvy PR Chicago, to regional MD of Ogilvy PR West, replacing Law. Ogilvy also promoted Washington President Robert Mathias to regional CEO for North America at the time.

DenHerder said the executive changes are at the two firms are “not [part] of a larger WPP strategy.”

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