2015 in review: Major moves that reshaped the media business

Changes at most major broadcasters and a mulititude of agency shifts that left the media industry looking vastly different than it did 12 months ago.

This year was truly one for the books and will surely go down in Canadian media history. To sum it all up, MiC has rounded-up the top restructures, executive moves, acquisitions and consolidations of the past 12 months.


Bell Media underwent three rounds of restructuring this summer and fall, with changes at the company starting from the top down, following the departure of Kevin Crull as president and the introduction of Mary-Ann Turcke to the role.

Shaw Media underwent a major restructuring this spring, laying off about 83 people and appointing a number of new executives, in a reorganization it said wasaimed at better positioning the company for the future.

Included in the layoffs were Errol Da-Ré, SVP of sales and Amanda Ploughman, VP of marketing. Da-Ré had been with Shaw Media since its inception in 2010, previously working as EVP of sales for CanWest Mediaworks. Ploughman had been with Shaw Media since 2013.

With its new CEO and president, Doug Murphy, in place, Corus Entertainment moved forward with a series of shuffles and promotions to reshape its executive ranks. The new leadership team included 10 executives in addition to Murphy and Judy Adam, VP, finance.

Executive moves

There were many changes in agency and media company C-suites this year, with high-level departures at MediaCom Canada, Cossette Media, ZenithOptimedia and Starcom MediaVest as well as Rogers Media and Bell Media.

In April Alexandra Panousis was named CEO at Starcom MediaVest Canada, taking over from Bruce Neve, who departed the agency after four years in the role.

MediaCom Canada saw a CEO shift in May, with Jamie Edwards leaving the company and Kevin Johnson promoted to the top role.

Cossette Media also saw a change at the top in May, with news that David Jowett was leaving the agency and returning to the U.K. He has since been named president of the DAC Group for Europe. Cossette Media tapped Joseph Leon to replace him, a move that later earned him the Media Director of the Year prize at strategy magazine’s AOY awards .

At ZenithOptimedia Canada, CEO Frank Friedman, who took over the post from industry veteran Sunni Boot in 2013, departed the Canadian office He was replaced by Kristine Lyrette, who was promoted to president.

Bell Media’s executive team has undergone a near-total overhaul since Kevin Crull departed the company in the spring. Former GroupM CCO Stuart Garvie took over Turcke’s old position as head of sales at the company,longtime programming exec Phil King exited the company in its first round of cuts, with high-profile music executive Randy Lennox joining the company in the new executive structure, as president of entertainment production and broadcasting. The changes continued this month as the company rebuilt its sales team, hiring new VPs Kristie Painting in digital sales, Michael Alexandor as VP, marketing and innovation and Alyson Walker as VP, brand partnerships.

At Rogers Media, president Keith Pelley announced in April that he would be leaving his post to become the commissioner and CEO of The European Tour of golf. In a surprise move, former Bell Media exec Rick Brace took over Pelley’s post in July.

And after 25 years with the company, Mitch Dent left his role as VP of client services at Rogers Media this month. Plans for Dent’s replacement haven’t yet been announced. But Rogers did some hiring too, bulking up Vice Canada with new executives, including former Blue Ant Media SVP of media solutions Ryan Fuss, who was named the division’s first CRO. And a key contact in the development of Vice’s deal with Rogers Media, David Purdy, recently announced that he will be moving to Vice Media in the new role of chief international growth officer.

And on the online side of things, Google Canada added to its Canadian senior team, hiring Thierry Bazay as head of industry, agency partnerships over the summer while Facebook Canada made an agency-side hire with news that Jake Norman, formerly president and CSO at Mindshare Canada, was joining the company as head of agency development.

Acquisitions and consolidation

Along with an abnormally high number of media agency reviews, that included moves at Loblaw, Mondelez and P&G, this year saw some major acquisitions in the Canadian media agency market.

Independent agency Media Experts was acquired by IPG Mediabrands at the end of October. The agency was founded in 1981 in Montreal by Mark Sherman, who will stay on as part of the executive team in the new organization, leading the agency’s 150 employees. Sherman will run Media Experts as an autonomous business unit in IPG Mediabrands, which is led by Canadian CEO Harvey Carroll.

IPG Mediabrands also recently announced that it would be combining two of its other agencies, M2 and Initiative, in an effort to strengthen both brands. M2 president Leeanne Comish departed the agency, with Initiative president Adam Luck named head of digital growth and innovation at IPG Mediabrands, overseeing Reprise Media. A search is underway for a new president at Initiative.

Closing the year’s media acquisition news, GroupM added to its roster last week with news that it was buying programmatic shop The Exchange Lab.

The company, which was founded by James Aitken and Tim Webster in 2007, has approximately 130 employees, with offices in Toronto, London, New York, Chicago and Singapore.

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