By Alexandra Bruell 

WPP PLC has hired AT&T Inc.'s Kirk McDonald as the chief executive of North America for its GroupM ad-buying unit, the latest in a string of executive changes at both companies.

Mr. McDonald, who had been chief business officer and interim head of AT&T's advertising-technology unit Xandr, will report to Christian Juhl, global CEO of GroupM.

"Kirk brings a unique view of the market in that he has experience in media, technology and marketing," Mr. Juhl said.

Mr. McDonald's move follows the exit of other leaders from Xandr, which was absorbed by AT&T's WarnerMedia division earlier this year but remained a separate team. Xandr President Rick Welday left last September, as the ad unit began to operate more closely with WarnerMedia, and Brian Lesser resigned as Xandr's chief executive in March.

Mike Welch, who ran product and business development at Xandr, will become its head, a company spokesman said.

GroupM, which houses ad-buying shops Mindshare, MediaCom, Wavemaker and Essence, has had its own leadership shake-up in recent years. Mr. Juhl took the top job last October. Tim Castree, who had become North American CEO in December 2018, departed in late 2019.

Now Mr. McDonald is helping agency leads in the U.S. and Canada use the resources within GroupM to reach consumers for their marketer clients.

Mr. McDonald said he is looking forward to working at a company where he can use an abundance of marketing tools to create new ad experiences for consumers.

"Doing that on the publisher side you never have enough scale," he added. "Doing it for hundreds if not thousands of brands around the globe really felt powerful."

Before joining AT&T, Mr. McDonald was president of advertising technology firm PubMatic. He previously held roles with Time Inc. and CNET Networks.

Write to Alexandra Bruell at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 18, 2020 12:44 ET (16:44 GMT)

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