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UM boss Mat Baxter to move to New York

Australia’s most high profile media agency CEO Mat Baxter is to join his boss Henry Tajer in New York, staff at media agency UM were told this afternoon.

IPG Mediabrands has formally announced overnight that Baxter is to be the latest local exec to follow Tajer across the Pacific taking the role of global chief strategy and creative officer.

Mat Baxter

Baxter: Joining Tajer’s Aussie entourage in the US

Baxter’s role at UM Australia will be taken by former Soap creative boss Ross Raeburn who joined the agency back in July.

As Mumbrella reported last week, rumours of Baxter’s departure for the US have been growing in recent months but had been consistently denied. However, a spokesman for the group confirmed to Mumbella last night: “Yes it is true. Mat is moving to New York.”

Tajer: US hiring spree continues

Tajer: US hiring spree continues

Baxter will now join a slew of Aussie executives following Tajer including John Sintras, Di Richardson – both poached from Starcom Mediavest – Mediabrands’ own Travis Johnson – who was tapped for global head of mobile; the boss of its programmatic platform Cadreon Marc Lomas; and Charles Goldbold who will lead global auditing. Tajer – previously executive chairman of IPG Mediabrands in Australia – was appointed to global CEO of IPG Mediabrands in March.

News of Baxter’s departure comes at sensitive time for UM which is one of three agencies pitching for the $60m Optus/Virgin media account. Mumbrella understands that Baxter told Optus that he would potentially be departing at the outset of the process.

“Mat Baxter is a unique executive,” said Tajer in a statement overnight. “I cannot name a more effective strategic thinker who is so totally focused on driving the best possible results for clients.

“The fact is that Mat has already positively impacted the performance of our business at the international level and on major clients. His new position in New York is a global platform for his talents and I am looking forward to working with him in our senior management team.”

UM has grown to be a major force in the market under Baxter’s leadership, with RECMA reporting it as the fourth largest agency with $1.05bn in billings, and boasts a suite of major brands including Wesfarmers, Coca-Cola, the NSW Government, ING and William Hill.

Prior to UM, Baxter was strategy chief at Mediacom and before that was a founding partner at Naked.

Baxter said of his new, global role; “This is a dream job for me. IPG Mediabrands is engineering a major transformation right now.

“A big part of that transformation is about recalibrating our product for the new world of marketing and ensuring we foster a world-class creative culture. I’m hugely excited to be working alongside so many talented people in our network to make sure that happens.”

The agency made waves across the industry earlier this year, when Baxter declared that “media agencies are not our competitors” and that he was shifting UM away from a focus on paid media. Yesterday UM was named as Australia’s best place to work employing fewer than 100 staff.

Nic Christensen 

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