Initiative's Mel Fein and team jump to Accenture Song

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 16 May 2024
Melissa Fein

Initiative Australia CEO Melissa Fein and her senior team of Sam Geer and Chris Colter are defecting to Accenture Song.

AdNews confirmed the news tonight. 

Chris Colter, chief strategy and product officer, and Sam Geer, managing director, are going with their boss.

The three have resigned but not yet left the business, insiders said. 

The trio are widely regarded as rainmakers, winning pitches and pulling in the big accounts.

Behind the raid is Mark Green, a founder of The Monkeys and now president ANZ of Accenture Song, self described as the  world’s largest technology-powered creative group. 

Mark Coad, chief executive officer at IPG Mediabrands, is holding a town hall this morning to update staff.

"From my memory, this is the biggest defection any media agency has suffered, and especially any global player in this country," media analyst Steve Allen, at independent Pearman, told AdNews.

"In my mind pretty clearly with the accounts and commercial leads Accenture Song is attracting,… integrated full service is increasing what their prospects and clients are asking for.

"Or Accenture Song see this as an opportunity to do the same, and own more or all of the major client communications pie. Integration seems to be the objective. Plus, naturally, great talent with excellent business skills, strong understanding of how to create media marketing strategies, and creativity."

IPG Mediabrands this morning officially confirmed the departures.

"While we respect that there are many questions to be asked and answered, no further comment will be made at this time.  Further details will be provided in due course," a spokesperson said. 

"At this early stage, we acknowledge the tremendous contribution that Melissa, Sam and Chris have made to Initiative and the wider IPG Mediabrands company."

The lure of the consultancies continues, according to industry figure Simon Hadfield, executive partner at DMCG Global, an executive search and recruitment business.

"Mel, Sam and Chris have all had good tenures with Initiative so it feels like the right time to try something new, you can’t blame them," Hadfield said.

"Let’s hope the grass is in fact greener and their timesheet filling out skills are up to scratch. Well done I say."

Stephen Wright, media business director, TrinityP3, said the great thing about the media industry is how dynamic it is.

"We see talent and money flow to the best opportunities all the time and that’s what keeps our industry healthy and vibrant," said Wright. 

“Accenture’s move overnight has the potential to significantly realign the media agency sector in Australia and will be watched closely by clients and competitors alike. 

“The loss of Mel, Sam and Chris is significant - they are one of the best pitch teams in Australia and Initiative’s new business record is testament to that. Initiative Australia has done a lot of work to establish itself as a leader globally and the opportunity for Mark Coad and the team now is to bring fresh eyes and build the next evolution of their product.”

Fein was last year named CEO of the Year by CEO magazine. 

She credited Geer and Colter for helping her build a world class team.

“Once we formed that trio, they say talent attracts talent and we were able to bring other people in, but really it was about just believing in growing brands,” she said. 

Fein joined IPG Mediabrands' media agency in 2016, replacing Lee Leggett. 

Prior to joining IPG Mediabrands, Fein led Network Ten’s client solutions division Generate, specialising in strategic and creative content creation, digital and social integration.


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