GTB Canada appoints Mike Flynn as president

Global CEO Robert Guay says experience in consumer engagement will be "critical" to the agency's work with Ford going forward.

GTB – WPP’s dedicated Ford agency – has appointed Mike Flynn as president of the company’s Canadian operations as it sets a course for the future of its automotive marketing.

Selected following a thorough search, Flynn, who has 25 years of marketing experience, will lead more than 100 people working at GTB Canada. He takes over from former president of GTB Canada, Linda Modelevsky, who left at the end of December to become the retail business lead for Nissan United USA, Omnicom’s dedicated Nissan unit led by TBWA\Chiat\Day. His first day is Mar. 16.

“We wanted to very quickly put someone in place [in Canada] that we thought was the right leader for this business going forward,” says Robert Guay, global CEO of GTB.

Originally called “Team Detroit” in the U.S. and Blue Hive in other markets, GTB was formed as a dedicated Ford agency in 2006 as a joint venture of five WPP agencies that had already been working with the automaker. However, in October 2018, Ford sent the majority of its creative business to BBDO and Wieden & Kennedy, with GTB retaining media, shopper marketing, CRM and dealer advertising. That focus on performance advertising and direct customer engagement has largely been seen in Canada as well, though GTB also handles some branded content work.

Guay says GTB’s business is moving quickly because of trends in the automotive industry. Between new entrants into the category, new ownership models and the development of electric and autonomous vehicles, it’s “a very dynamic marketplace,” he says. “In order for us to be successful in providing [Ford] a competitive advantage, we really need people who have been at the forefront of the industry and where it’s moving.”

He references not just Flynn’s automotive experience with GM and FCA, but also CRM, digital and performance marketing. Guay says experience in these kinds of direct consumer engagement methods will be “critical” to the business GTB operates in, to learn more about consumers and help Ford engage with them in a changing industry. Prior to this appointment, Flynn was SVP, group account director at Leo Burnett Detroit, and also has experience at Doner and Digitas.

“We have put in place presidents, in each of our major geographical regions, who understand the industry, the tools that are available, the consumers and audiences, and can really align our clients’ resources against providing the best return for their investment,” Guay says.