McLaughlin was responsible for TMG’s digital strategy, subscription programme and syndication, and has also held senior management roles at the Daily Mail, Trinity Mirror, ICS Learn and Scottish Radio Holdings.
He joins BIG from Dubai-based Gulf Sports Media, a digital and print content business, where he trebled digital revenues during a three-year spell as chief executive.
"I’m hugely excited to be coming back to the UK to work with such a well-regarded agency at a really exciting period in its growth," McLaughlin said.
"I know from many people within my own network that BIG has a hard-earned and justified reputation as a firm which really delivers for its clients. It’s clear that the team is ambitious for further growth and I’m looking forward to playing my part in the years ahead."
BIG founding director Neil Gibson said that McLaughlin was the "outstanding candidate", adding: "He has a superb, sustained pedigree of driving business growth, with a specific focus on digital performance."
"Working with our senior team, he will play a pivotal role in accelerating the strong growth we’ve seen in recent years, with a particular emphasis on further integrating our content, digital and design offerings for our clients’ benefit."