McCann Canada names new CEO amid restructuring

Simon Sikorski replaces David Leonard, who is departing along with CCO Darren Clarke and CSO Mary Chambers.

McCann Worldgroup Canada has named Simon Sikorski as its new CEO, part of a leadership restructuring that includes the replacement of former CEO David Leonard, as well as the departure of chief creative officer Darren Clarke and chief strategy officer Mary Chambers.

As CEO, Sikorski will oversee all of the McCann Worldgroup agencies in Canada  including integrated creative agency McCann, direct and digital agency MRM//McCann, production shop Craft, experiential agency Momentum and McCann Health  across their offices in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

Chris Macdonald, global president of advertising and allied agencies at IPG-owned McCann Worldgroup, tells strategy that the hiring represents not only a leadership restructuring, but an organizational one.

While leaders for each individual agency previously reported into Leonard as country CEO, they will now report into both the CEO and the regional leadership for their respective agencies. Based on similar structures in markets like the U.K., Spain and Japan, Macdonald says it’s an approach that allows each agency within McCann Worldgroup to pull resources from their global networks, as well as integrate within the market when required.

“We are making sure clients are going through the right specialists, but also making sure they can bring in resources from all of those agency networks,” he says, adding that it is an approach well-suited to clients like Petro Canada and General Motors, where McCann’s work is focused on big business challenges and utilizing multiple disciplines. “What we’re doing is making sure those [agency] leaders have the best abilities to manage and run their agencies, together and separately.”

Macdonald cites Sikorski’s experience as a major factor in bringing him on to take over as CEO. Sikorski has been chief client officer of Craft – McCann’s production network – since 2012, working with clients including Mastercard, Microsoft, L’Oréal and Staples. Prior to that, he was the global business lead on McCann’s 2011 ExxonMobil pitch – which required the need to integrate offerings from different agency networks in different regions – as well as managing director for McCann in London, where he worked on the ExxonMobil and Intel accounts.

“He has multiple experiences in multiple markets, at the global, regional and local level,” Macdonald says. “That’s critical in how we think about connectivity for our Canadian clients and our talent to be able to get the best resources they need to deliver against the challenges our clients are facing.”

When asked why the restructuring required the elimination of the national CCO and CSO roles, in addition to hiring a new CEO, Macdonald says the agencies “need to have talent within each individual agency.” He says McCann Worldgroup Canada is looking at having dedicated creative and strategy leadership for each agency – such as the recent hiring of Raul Garcia to be ECD for Momentum based in Toronto – though adds that whether each agency gets such leadership would be dependent on what they require.

“I’m not going to say each one needs that,” Macdonald says. “Given where they are in their development, we want to make sure they have the right resources in place to deliver for their clients.”

Leonard joined the agency in 2015 after ten years as president of DDB Canada. Within months of joining, he brought on Clarke from Taxi and Chambers from Publicis. He also oversaw the 2016 name change from MacLaren McCann to McCann Canada.

In Toronto, creative at McCann Canada will be led by ECD Josh Stein and strategy by CSO Dustin Rideout. In Montreal, creative will be led by ECD Pascal DeDecker and strategy by SVP of business strategy and development Diane Ridgeway-Cross. And in Western Canada, ECD Trent Burton will lead creative, while the agency is currently looking for a strategy lead for the region.

McCann’s new business wins in 2018 included Export Development Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces.