Edelman hires Wunderman Thompson exec as first global head of data, analytics

"I was like gum under his shoe," Richard Edelman said about efforts to court Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis to his agency.

DALLAS: Edelman has hired Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis, formerly of creative agency Wunderman Thompson, as its first global head of data and analytics.

Based in Dallas, Kotziagkiaouridis is reporting to global CEO Richard Edelman. Kotziagkiaouridis is set to start in the newly created role on November 19. His direct reports will include Antoine Harary, head of Edelman Intelligence. 

Kotziagkiaouridis will build data and analytics as an offering across Edelman’s business units and lead Edelman Intelligence, the firm’s 210-person global research and analytics consultancy, as well as its existing digital analytics capabilities. 

Kotziagkiaouridis cited reasons for joining the world’s largest PR firm, "foremost it’s the untapped opportunity for data and analytics in the comms space." 

"There is definitely an opportunity to innovate in the PR space and that attracts me," he said. "I also think there’s a special commitment at Edelman to research and an excitement about the role data can play in the transformation of communications that is already happening."

The pace of the PR business also was an attraction. "The agility of the organization and the structure was another important factor for me," he added. "The ability to do things fast in a fast environment." 

Edelman said he courted Kotziagkiaouridis for a while and that purloining other top ad agency talent may have convinced the data specialist to leave a creative shop for PR. 

"I hired him because he’s a revolutionary, and he wants to be on the pirate ship and wants to break some things," Edelman said. "[He] wants to break the stranglehold of advertising and digital as the go-tos for quality information. We’ve talked for two years now. I think that the Judy John hire [as chief creative officer] was part of persuading him. I was like gum under his shoe. I never gave up."

Kotziagkiaouridis added that the advertising vs. PR debate is largely inside baseball. 

"At the end of the day, people don’t see paid, earned or owned media. They see relevant stories they want to engage with and brands they want to engage with," he said. "The distinction exits from an inward industry view."

Edelman this month also promoted longtime executive Matthew Harrington to global president, a title formerly held by Richard Edelman, who is continuing as the firm’s global CEO. 

Harrington’s appointment capped off a series of senior moves at the agency, including the promotion of Arent Jan Hesselink, GM of Amsterdam, to COO of EMEA, reporting to new EMEA CEO and president Ed Williams. Edelman also promoted Stephen Kehoe to president and CEO of APAC after incumbent Jesse Lin resigned. The agency also picked Aaron McLear as U.S. chair of public affairs, replacing Rob Rehg, who moved into the role of vice chair of global client strategy. 

Edelman reported a 1% drop in revenue last year to $888.4 million, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report.

A Wunderman Thompson spokesperson said the agency is restructuring its analytics group and will make announcements soon. 

"We wish Yannis the best of luck in his future endeavors," the spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.

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