NEW YORK: Porter Novelli has named David Bentley CEO, effective immediately.
The agency said in a statement that he will continue its focus on helping clients “find, live and tell their purpose.”
The CEO position at Porter had been empty since mid-December, when Brad MacAfee stepped down. MacAfee had led the firm since 2016 when he took over as CEO from Karen van Bergen, who was named chief executive of the then-newly created Omnicom Public Relations Group.
Van Bergen left Omnicom PR Group shortly before MacAfee’s departure from Porter to become dean of Omnicom University, a management-development program established by the holding company in 1995. John Doolittle, president of Omnicom’s DAS Group of Companies, has been leading OPRG while the holding company searches for van Bergen’s replacement.
Porter global president Jennifer Swint also left the agency in October when her position was eliminated.
Before joining Porter, Bentley was VP of digital at McKinsey & Company, held leadership roles at AKQA in North America and Europe and ran his own consultancy. Porter did not immediately respond to questions on whether McKinsey’s work for clients such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conflicts with the agency’s positioning as a purpose consultancy and other questions. Porter won Agency of the Year and other statuettes at the 2019 Purpose Awards.
McKinsey declined to comment on Bentley’s exit.
Porter’s revenue was up 1% in 2018 to $150.5 million, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report. OPRG, which also includes firms such as Ketchum and FleishmanHillard, posted a Q4 revenue drop of 2.5% to $358.3 million and a decline of 2% for the whole year to $1.3 billion. The unit hasn’t reported a revenue increase since 2018.
Omnicom CEO John Wren said on the holding company’s most recent earnings call that "the profitability of the PR division has been and remains very strong."
"So the opportunity is a marketplace opportunity; it’s not anything structurally to do with the business at the point," he added.