Mindshare elevates Adam Gerhart to global CEO

Gerhart will replace Nick Emery, who was ousted in October for inappropriate behaviour.

By Alison Weissbrot

Mindshare has announced its replacement for Nick Emery, the global chief executive who was fired last month after an inappropriate bathroom prank via video chat.

Adam Gerhart, the agency’s U.S. CEO, will become global CEO at the GroupM media agency, overseeing 9,300 employees across 86 countries, and $24 billion in media spend globally, per COMvergence.

Gerhart, who has been with Mindshare since 2003, will continue to operate as U.S. CEO until a successor is picked, for which the process is already underway.

As global CEO, Gerhart will focus on elevating the role of media as a business driver and a force for good, rather than just a tool for efficiency. Mindshare has done work on the latter already, launching a private marketplace for minority-owned publishers in July.

“Historically, there’s been a tendency to relate media to something bought or transacted, which means it can become commoditized,” Gerhard said. “But the reality is, media can be a huge and effective catalyst of business.”

That positioning will require investment in e-commerce, performance marketing and addressable media. It also means getting clients to view Mindshare as a consultant in areas such as data privacy and supporting them if they want to take aspects of media buying in-house.

To support these capabilities, Mindshare is looking to evolve remuneration towards more outcomes-based models.

“We need to shift perception from being seen as media buyers into something more progressive,” Gerhart said. “I don’t see it as a radical overhaul to the business, but I do see it as a constructive and productive evolution for the industry.”

One area where Mindshare will have to evolve is in TV buying, as linear consumption shifts over-the-top. Mindshare is cross-training TV buyers to buy video regardless of where viewing happens.

But as Mindshare builds these capabilities, it may start to look more similar to other agencies within GroupM and parent WPP, which has been radically consolidating agencies over the past few years, most recently Grey and AKQA. While Gerhart does not expect to see more consolidation within GroupM, he thinks there is an opportunity to “continue to clarify what our future-facing capability looks like.”

Mindshare does not have plans to move its global headquarters to New York, and Gerhart hopes to create a more “geographically balanced and representative view” at the agency.

“We might lean into e-commerce from Asia because it’s incredibly developed there, or our neuroscience capability in the U.S. where we’ve seen strong momentum,” he said. “It’s less about the headquarters and more about where the innovation is coming from.”

The Emery in the room

As Gerhart steps into his new role, he’ll have to deal with the turmoil left behind by Emery’s abrupt firing in October.

Emery was one of Mindshare’s founders and had worked at the agency since 1997 before being elevated to Global CEO in 2012. On Oct. 14, he was abruptly fired with little explanation by GroupM global CEO Christian Juhl for breaching conduct, which Campaign later learned was related to a juvenile bathroom prank on an internal video call.

While Gerhart declined to comment on Emery’s exit, referring back to WPP’s statement, he said he is proud of Mindshare’s strong culture around the globe.

“Having been with Mindshare and working around the world in various roles for nearly 20 years, I’ve seen the business from a number of vantage points,” he said. “Right now, what we need is somebody who understands the culture and our people.”

Gerhart did not share plans to create new rules of conduct at the agency, referring back to GroupM’s policies that led to Emery’s firing.

“We pride ourselves on our culture and we think it is a competitive advantage,” he added. “Our values of speed, provocation and teamwork don’t go away.”