NEW YORK—Mark Hass, chief executive at MS&L since 2005—his Detroit firm was acquired by what was then Manning Selvage & Lee in March of 2002—has left the firm and is launching a new agency, MH Group, based in New York and focusing on C-suite communications challenges..
The departure appeared to occur abruptly, and MS&L parent Publicis Groupe will take some time to find a replacement. For now, John Farrell, the president of the Groupe's specialized agencies and marketing services unit, will work closely with MS&L's global leadership team—including regional presidents Jim Tsokanos (North America), Anders Kempe (Europe) and Glenn Osaki (Asia-Paicifc), all potential candidates for the CEO’s role—on the management and direction of the firm until a replacement has been found.
In a statement, Tsokanos told staff in the U.S.: “While any leadership change can be unsettling, I want to make sure you know a few key things. One, MS&L's leadership and business continues to be very strong, and I am confident that this news will not have any negative impact on the firm, our people or our clients. Two, we have great people, terrific clients and a very strong business plan that we will continue to execute as usual. And three, MS&L's commitment to innovation, creativity, our clients and each other is unwavering, and will not change.”
The firm is believed to have been one of the top performing units within the Publicis Groupe, and despite the loss of the global Philips account, was enjoying a strong start to the year.
Hass says that in coming months he will be “exploring new opportunities both at agencies and corporations, as well as completing a writing project that will examine how companies and their leaders create value in an internet age by aligning themselves with a higher purpose.”
He has already launched a new firm, MH Group, that he says will focus on two areas: leadership communications, including traditional media relations, internal communications, issues management and stakeholder engagement, as well as social and digital media; and cause marketing and corporate social responsibility activities, especially within social networks.