New boss to shake up Starcom

New Starcom boss Matt Blackborn steps off the plane at Dubai International Airport today with one of the toughest briefs in the business — he’s got two years to ensure the agency reaches international levels of transparency.

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By  Tim Addington Published  August 7, 2005

New Starcom boss Matt Blackborn steps off the plane at Dubai International Airport today with one of the toughest briefs in the business — he’s got two years to ensure the agency reaches international levels of transparency. In an industry seen by many as driven by private arrangements between agencies and media owners that clients are unaware of, the task will be a massive challenge. But Blackborn said: “It’s my job to come over to make sure that we do everything 100% professionally, even if others aren’t.” As Campaign Middle East predicted four weeks ago, Blackborn has been appointed to the new role of Middle East and North Africa CEO for the Publicis Media Groupe, which puts him in charge of both Starcom and sister agency Zenith Media. In a statement, Publicis said Blackborn’s job — a two-year appointment — would be to “assure compliance with Publicis corporate policies”. Starcom currently vies with OMD to be the region’s biggest media agency. Blackborn was previously executive buying director at Starcom MediaVest UK. His arrival is part of a wider regional management shake up which will see him supported in his overhaul by the arrival of a new chief financial officer Mike Fenwick, former CFO for Grey Advertising in South Africa. And Oussama Jamal, managing director of Starcom in Egypt, will take on the role of operations director for the Middle East. Since the departure of the agency’s regional CEO Tarek Ayntrazi, Jamal has assumed additional management responsibilities. Blackborn’s arrival follows increased tension between agencies and media owners, in particular the Choueiri Group, the biggest media sales house in the region. A priority for Blackborn will be to establish a straightforward business relationship following a turbulent time. “I am aware that, certainly within TV, the market has changed with the Choueiri From page 1 Group holding a pretty significant proportion of it,” Blackborn said. “We have got to be clear as a PLC, of our own internal guidelines, and that’s what I am going to do.” Jack Klues, worldwide CEO at Starcom MediaVest and member of the PMG board of directors, said: “Success in any market requires the right balance of global commitment and local expertise. Matt and Mike will be complemented by a strong base of local talent, including Oussama, so we can deliver this balance to our clients. “The leadership in MENA has extensive experience and profound understanding of the region’s consumers and media infrastructure — great assets to our organisation, particularly as the interim chief executive and chief financial officer of PMG become acclimated to their new professional environs."

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