5750 GM advertising agency Campbell Ewald names its first female CEO

GM advertising agency Campbell Ewald names its first female CEO

Longtime General Motors advertising agency Campbell Ewald has undertaken an executive shuffle, which includes naming the first woman as its CEO in the company’s 112-year history.

Kari Shimmel, 41, CE’s chief strategy officer since late 2018, will immediately step into the role of CEO, succeeding Kevin Wertz, who is stepping down as CEO but will remain in a consulting role through the first quarter of 2023, according to a news release.

Wertz, 49, has held a number of leading positions at the agency over his 15 years at Detroit-based Campbell Ewald. Any specific next steps for Wertz beyond consulting for the transition were unclear.

“In my time as CEO, Kari has served as a strong partner to me so I’m excited to see where she leads this amazing agency,” Wertz said in a statement sent through a spokesperson. “I’ve loved my time here and I’m so proud of the work our teams have launched. I’ll be consulting through the end of February before I move on to what’s next in my career.”

The CEO transition brings two other promotions to CE, which also has offices in Los Angeles and New York:

  • Colin Padden has been promoted to chief client officer, having overseen Campbell Ewald’s accounts in Detroit where he leads the agency’s General Motors business, including OnStar and Chevrolet.
  • Jamil Buie moves up to group director for innovation and growth. Buie has worked with brands including DeBeers, Ford, McDonald’s, Nationwide Insurance and Chrysler Jeep Dodge. He has worked across a range of areas, including multicultural and digital advertising, entertainment marketing, TV and film product placement, and business development.
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Shimmel steps into her new role during something of a unique period for many clients, she said during an interview with Crain’s Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News, on Monday.

“I think the core thing I want to do is be a true partner to our client’s business, to help them enter into this modern era of marketing. We call it the experience age,” Shimmel said. “To ensure that they have ideas that can really span the journey, and that we’re helping them … to really create content and be culturally connected so that they really deliver on their brand promise.”

Shimmel, a 2013 Crain’s 40 Under 40 honoree, has a background in marketing that spans working on the creative side and strategy side. That work allows her to bring a “Swiss Army Knife” mentality to the new role, she said.

Shimmel’s ascent to the top spot at the agency highlights her status as “relentless reductionist, endlessly bringing clarity, focus, and modern thinking to complex problems on behalf of her clients,” according to Alex Leikikh, executive vice president at CE’s parent company, New York City-based The Interpublic Group of Companies Inc.

“Campbell Ewald’s work is always built on a foundation of an integrated offering and has pivoted in unique ways to help brands be more relevant and stronger in today’s market,” Leikikh said in a news release. “We thank Kevin for his years at the agency and now turn to Kari to pave the way forward.”

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