Golin names Matt Neale sole CEO

The agency has eliminated its CEO triumvirate with the leadership restructuring.

Golin CEO Matt Neale

NEW YORK: Golin has named Matt Neale as its sole CEO, abandoning the "CEO+" model it adopted after Fred Cook stepped down as chief executive three years ago.

Former co-CEO Gary Rudnick is assuming the new role of global president and COO, reporting to Neale, who in turn reports to Andy Polansky, chairman and CEO of Interpublic Group’s Constituency Management Group. Golin’s third co-CEO, Jon Hughes, is leaving the firm. Fred Cook remains chairman.

The moves are effective immediately.  

"I believe strongly that the time is right to streamline the Golin leadership team," Polansky said. "I’ve been working with the team to establish the best model going forward and I’m thrilled that [Neale] will take on the role as the sole CEO and also thrilled [Rudnick] has been named global president and COO."

Polansky said the decision to discard the three-CEO structure was his.

"When I think of the Golin business right now, it has a great deal of momentum," Polansky said. "We had a very strong business performance in the back half of 2019 with client wins like Twitter and Lego. So clearly we’re looking at this from a position of strength and in my view, this is the best leadership model moving forward."

Neale and Hughes declined to comment on the changes; Rudnick did not respond to requests for comment.

Hughes commented on LinkedIn that "after 14 years at Golin, I've decided to make a change." 

"I’m going to take a break, do a spot of ‘gardening’ and then seek a fresh, new challenge," he said. "I’m immensely proud of everything we achieved, the team I worked with, the clients we worked for, the businesses we built, the awards we won and the fun we had."

Golin adopted the three-CEO structure in 2016 when Cook, its chief executive since 2003, moved into the chairman role. At the time, Neale was given the title co-CEO+Vision, in charge of managing new products, thought leadership and agency reputation while maintaining his duties as president of EMEA and co-president of New York.

Rudnick was named CEO+Operations, tasked with managing the business aspects of the agency including finance, human resources and client management. He also hung on to his regional responsibilities as president of the Americas.

Hughes was made CEO+International, responsible for growing Golin’s global footprint and keeping his regional responsibilities as president of Asia.

The leadership restructuring is the latest in a string of significant changes made at CMG firms since Polansky was named chairman and CEO of the unit in July, leaving his position as Weber Shandwick’s CEO. He was replaced in that role by Gail Heimann, who retained her previous position as Weber’s global president.

In October, IPG merged DeVries Global and Golin subsidiary Canvas Blue under the DeVries Global brand. DeVries CEO Heidi Hovland is set to exit at the end of this year. Leadership of the combined firm will report to Polansky.

At the end of July, IPG merged entertainment shops Rogers & Cowan and PMK-BNC

In April, before Polansky’s promotion, IPG merged Current Marketing and Creation to create Current Global.

Polansky praised the strength of the CMG portfolio, calling its agencies best in class, but said he is looking at different ways of taking its resources to market.

"We believe in the power of our individual brands and we continue to invest in those brands," he said. "At the same time, clients are looking more for integrated solutions and integrated capabilities. We have tremendous capabilities across CMG; whether it’s experiential or sports marketing, entertainment marketing, branding, PR and digital. There’s a lot of opportunity to engage in dimensionalized thinking."

CMG’s PR firms reported low-single-digit growth in Q3 on both an as-reported and organic basis. Golin’s revenue increased 5% last year to $218 million, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report.

This story was updated on December 11 with comment from Hughes. 

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