McCann Worldgroup today announced expanded roles for three of its top regional leaders.
Alex Lubar, president of McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific, has been named president of the McCann advertising agency network in North America. Ghassan Harfouche, group CEO of the Middle East Communications Network (MCN), McCann Worldgroup’s and Interpublic Group’s partner network in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, will add responsibilities as president of McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific. And Ji Watson, CFO of McCann Worldgroup APAC & Representative Director of McCann Worldgroup Japan, has been named CEO of McCann Worldgroup Japan.
As with Lubar and Watson in their previous roles, Harfouche also will partner closely with Prasoon Joshi, APAC Chairman and CEO & chief creative officer of McCann Worldgroup India, who continues to provide vision and direction to McCann Worldgroup regional leadership.
“Alex, Ghassan and Ji have each demonstrated an impressive ability to drive client growth and creatively effective marketing solutions before and even during the difficult period of the pandemic,” said Bill Kolb, chairman and CEO of McCann Worldgroup. “What they’ve accomplished with their teams in their respective regions, including expanding our integrated communications offering to clients, has been a key element of how we’ve continued to build our business as we prepare for the era of increased client activity when the pandemic ends. They are all great collaborators who know how to leverage our culture and capabilities to help our clients achieve success.”
Lubar moved to Singapore two years ago to assume his Asia Pacific leadership role after an international career with the McCann Worldgroup network. He first joined McCann in New York in 2012 and two years later was promoted to global CMO, overseeing all integrated new business activity for McCann Worldgroup across the globe. In his new North American role, Lubar will drive creativity, growth and further integration across all McCann brand agencies. He will lead a region that has been highly recognized for its business and creative achievements.
“Alex has proven to be one of the most dynamic leaders in our industry and expanded upon the success of every region where he has held a leadership position,” said Chris Macdonald, chairman and CEO, McCann. “I know that Alex will elevate our award-winning operations for the McCann brand across North America to even greater success in providing creatively-effective solutions for our clients.”
“I am thrilled to work with McCann teams I know well in North America, especially now, when our agencies are leading the industry in innovation, creativity and growth, and I look forward to helping us build on our success and playing a key role in making McCann Worldgroup the leading global marketing solutions network,” said Lubar.
Ghassan Harfouche, who joined MCN in 2011, leads a network in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey that encompasses 14 different Interpublic Group advertising, media and PR agency brands in 15 cities across 13 countries. His experience includes working with many of the agency brands that are part of the core offering of McCann Worldgroup, including FP7 McCann, Commonwealth//McCann, MRM, McCann Health, Momentum, and Weber Shandwick in addition to other IPG media, promotional and ad agency units in that region. The MCN Network has enjoyed tremendous success under his leadership. According to the 2020 Global Effie Index, FP7 McCann Dubai was ranked the most effective individual ad agency in the world and FP7 McCann was nominated as the Most Effective Agency network. Weber Shandwick was named the best agency in the Middle East at PR Week Global Awards and Weber Shandwick UAE was the PRCA’s Large Consultancy of the Year. MCN Mediabrands was recognized as the number one media group in MENAT by RECMA every year since 2017; UM, Initiative and Magna occupied the top three positions on RECMA’s list; and UM was the number one Media Agency network in MENAT by RECMA and number two in the world.
“I consider myself fortunate to be working with the most innovative and creative global marketing network in McCann Worldgroup because they have been the greatest possible partner in building the most successful network of agencies in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey,” said Ghassan Harfouche. “I look forward to seeing our network continue to grow in size and influence.”
Harfouche joins Prasoon Joshi, Chairman of McCann Worldgroup Asia and CEO & CCO of McCann Worldgroup India, who is widely recognised as one of the industry’s most celebrated leaders, in overseeing the APAC region’s operations of 26 offices in 13 markets (including affiliate agencies).
Joshi said, “I congratulate Alex on his move and all he has achieved for our region during his tenure, and look forward to partnering with Ghassan in this next phase. Ghassan’s experience working with the highly creative and effective agencies we have in the Middle East and North Africa will make him a great and fitting partner in the Asia Pacific region. His deep understanding of integrated marketing solutions will also greatly benefit our clients who are increasingly expanding the ways in which they are connecting with consumers.”
Ji Watson, who takes over as CEO of McCann Worldgroup Japan, while retaining her role as CFO of McCann Worldgroup APAC & Representative Director of McCann Worldgroup Japan, has nearly 30 years of marketing industry experience. She spent the first 20+ years of her career in senior management roles on the client side, working for Turner Broadcasting, Coca-Cola and Samsung. She moved to the agency side with global roles at Ogilvy for seven years before she joined McCann APAC in 2016.
“Ji is central to the growth and expansion of our operations across APAC,” said Bill Kolb. “Over the past two years, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific has placed increased focus on bolstering individual markets under strong local market leadership, as we leverage scale and expertise across the region to deliver the best possible solutions for our clients. Ji’s expertise in the Japanese market and her experience in leading our agencies in the region are critical to our success in APAC.”
“I am thrilled by this opportunity to lead our operations in Japan and continue to serve our agencies in APAC,” said Ji Watson. “We see tremendous room for growth and to expand our clients’ brands and businesses in APAC and on a global scale.”
In addition to Joshi’s APAC leadership and management of South Asia, and Ji Watson’s dual roles in Japan and in APAC, other sub-regional hubs are led by:
Emily Chang, CEO, McCann Worldgroup China – former CMO for Starbucks and Apple and a passionate advocate for inclusive leadership;
Nick Handel, President, McCann Worldgroup Southeast Asia, and APAC Regional Director for MRM – over 10 years with the network in Asia, leading multi-award winning agencies and the network’s APAC MRM business.
Bill Kolb, global chairman & CEO, McCann Worldgroup said: “APAC is a region of enormous significance for us as it encompasses the second and third largest advertising markets (China and Japan). Greater connectivity between the regions will lead to increased opportunities. We have some of our best talent in the network focused on APAC and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
McCann Worldgroup has been consistently recognised globally as among the world’s leading networks both in creativity and effectiveness. McCann Worldgroup was named the 2021 Webby Awards Network of the Year for the second consecutive year. It was ranked by the Global Effie Effectiveness Index as the most Creatively Effective Network three years in a Row (2018, 2019, and 2020) and was named the #1 advertising agency network for creative effectiveness in the 2020 WARC Effective 100 rankings. It has been accorded recent “Global Network of the Year” honors at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and by both Adweek and Campaign magazines.