By Alexandra Bruell 

WPP PLC ad-buying unit GroupM named Adam Gerhart global chief executive of its Mindshare agency, filling an opening created when former global CEO Nick Emery was fired nearly two months ago.

Mindshare is among the largest buyers of advertising inventory and works with a roster of blue-chip clients, including General Mills Inc., Unilever PLC and Kimberly-Clark Corp. Mr. Emery is a well-known industry executive who worked at the agency for 23 years and was CEO for a decade.

Mr. Gerhart, also a longtime Mindshare employee, currently serves as U.S. CEO and will take on the new role in January. He will continue to oversee the agency's U.S. operation while the company searches for a replacement.

He started his career at Mindshare as an assistant media planner nearly 18 years ago. Since then, he has worked in various roles across planning, buying, strategy and client service.

Mr. Gerhart is taking the global role during a trying time for Madison Avenue. The ad industry faces challenges from the global pandemic, including budget cuts by marketers, agency layoffs and disruptions to media programming caused by production pauses and live sports postponements.

It also comes a time when clients need help revamping their global strategies, many of which increasingly involve e-commerce and digital marketing, creating new opportunities for media agencies.

GroupM said in October it had fired Mr. Emery for an unspecified violation of its code of conduct. "He was dismissed following an investigation after we received notice of an incident last week," GroupM Global CEO Christian Juhl said at the time in an email to employees that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

"We found that Nick's actions fell well short of the standards we expect of each other and were a clear breach of our code of conduct," Mr. Juhl said in the email.

Mr. Emery was fired after a video meeting during which he brought his laptop into the men's bathroom at the Mindshare office in London, according to people familiar with the situation. The laptop showed him from behind pretending to use a urinal, the people said.

"There was nothing sinister or salacious or exposed about the actions that led to my dismissal," Mr. Emery said in an interview Wednesday. "I give Adam my congratulations. I think he'll be great and wish him good luck," he added.

Write to Alexandra Bruell at alexandra.bruell@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 10, 2020 10:44 ET (15:44 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.