GroupM Canada picks Kevin Johnson as new CEO

The former Mediacom CEO takes over leadership of WPP's media group from Stuart Garvie, while Urania Agas takes over his former duties.
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Kevin Johnson has been appointed CEO of GroupM Canada effective immediately, filling the slot left vacant by the departure of Stuart Garvie at the end of October.

In addition to leading GroupM’s operations within Canada – which includes agencies Mediacom, Mindshare, Wavemaker, Essence and m/Six, as well as programmatic audience company Xaxis – Johnson will also serve on GroupM’s North American leadership team.

Johnson joined GroupM agency Mediacom in July 2014, first as chief client officer before being promoted to CEO less than a year later. He had previously worked in senior roles with Havas and Carat.

Johnson tells MiC he is excited about leading GroupM at a tipping point in the industry and a period of transformational change for the company.

“I think our industry and for GroupM here, we’re currently in the process of change, a period of change,” he says. “We recognize that and we know that this change has been intentional and all of it has been with the aspiration of success and growth. Now that we have seen some of these changes manifested, we’re really excited about being able to continue to grow this business and invest in our people, our talent and together think about what GroupM looks like in the future.”

Back at Mediacom, Urania Agas will be leading day-to-day operations. Agas was elevated to president of Mediacom Canada in April after nine years with the agency, which included helping to oversee the agency’s recent growth as chief client officer.

Looking at the year ahead, aside from its focus on growth, GroupM is planning to move all of its agencies into a new building on Toronto’s waterfront in Q2 next year. Until then, when and if staff do go into the office, they’re going into the existing offices in two buildings on Bloor and Dundas. They can work in the manner they’d like to – remotely or in the office – while also having opportunities to get together and reconnect.

The people of GroupM are also a big focus for Johnson. “Having gone through COVID and social unrest, the conversations and the support we’re giving our people are extremely different than two years ago at this time because of events of that nature.”

Johnson is taking over CEO duties from Stuart Garvie, whose departure from GroupM was announced last month. Save for a two year stint leading sales at Bell Media, Garvie has been with GroupM for roughly ten years, first as global trading director at Maxus in London before coming over as chief commercial officer for GroupM Canada in 2013. He returned to the company from Bell as CEO in 2017.