GodwinGroup Announces Executive Changes

Ad agency restructures to advance expansion plans and digital integration

JACKSON, Miss. – June 20, 2013 – GodwinGroup today announced major changes to the firm management structure as a key step in a national expansion initiative.

Chairman and CEO Philip Shirley said, “Over the past five years, we have transformed our company from a regional ad agency into an integrated national specialty firm with clients whose markets reach coast to coast and beyond. This business model demands detailed management of our network of affiliated companies, subsidiaries, operating divisions and multiple offices that provide our clients with nationally recognized digital marketing, advertising, public relations, reputation management, branding and change management services.”

The new Godwin corporate structure, effective immediately, was developed in response to market demands for greater national expertise and complete digital integration without increasing marketing costs. “Our clients challenged us with a need for complete integration of their branding and advertising with digital marketing,” Shirley said. “Yet they need costs managed very carefully or even reduced. This initiative is our answer. Our new management structure allows us to implement the final steps of this process.”

Shirley announced the following promotions as part of the new management structure:

Jeff Russell, a longtime senior agency partner, has been named president. A 28-year Godwin executive, he most recently served as executive vice president responsible for client services. Russell will be responsible for service quality, oversight of all brand managers and business development, as well as corporate planning for Godwin Gulf Coast. He will serve as senior marketing counsel with lead responsibility on major advertising accounts. Russell has an undergraduate degree and an MBA from Delta State University.

Donna Ritchey, formerly executive vice president and senior partner in charge of reputation management, has been promoted to chief strategy officer (CSO) for the corporation. In addition, Ritchey will serve as president of Saviuum Consulting, a business consulting division that is being spun off as a separate operation. As CSO, she will serve an account planning function to provide audience insights and messaging strategies for all major plans and proposals, as well as provide oversight of the research operations and public relations department for the agency. Saviuum offers strategic planning, reputation management, change management and executive training services. Ritchey joined the agency in 1989. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America.

John McKie has been named chief integrated marketing officer (CIMO) in addition to retaining his duties as managing partner. McKie joined Godwin in 2000, became a partner in 2007 and has served as executive vice president. As CIMO, he will be responsible for fully integrating the marketing technologies and processes used in digital marketing, database services, direct marketing and advertising services. His duties include serving as senior and lead counsel on major accounts, as well as management of the day-to-day operations and direct oversight of creative, digital, web, media and public relations departments. McKie earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MBA from Mississippi State University.

Susan Graves, chief financial officer (CFO) and executive vice president (EVP) of Godwin, has also been named chief network officer (CNO). She will continue to serve as CFO. As CNO, Graves will be responsible for managing the technology interface, communications and operating agreements with all affiliate companies, joint ventures, subsidiaries and separately operated divisions. As CFO, she will continue to oversee finance, accounting, cash management, human resources, insurance and facilities management functions. Graves joined Godwin in 1998 as accounting supervisor and was named partner in 2010. A University of Southern Mississippi graduate with a degree in accounting, she was recently named by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of the Top 10 Leading Business Women in Mississippi.

Tal McNeill, a 28-year veteran of the Jackson advertising industry, has been named executive creative director (ECD). An award-winning writer, McNeill has previously served as senior writer, associate creative director and group creative director. McNeill will be responsible for overseeing the quality of the agency creative product in both traditional and digital applications, as well as development of creative concepts and production of major campaigns. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in graphic communications. He has also been named Copywriter of the Year by the American Advertising Federation, Jackson chapter.

GodwinGroup, founded in 1937, is headquartered in Jackson with offices on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Its digital arm WebMetro/Godwin has operations in Jackson and Los Angeles. An affiliate of MAGNET, the Marketing and Advertising Global Network, Godwin serves clients nationwide, primarily in healthcare, banking, finance and insurance, utilities, tourism, manufacturing, and food and beverage industries. The agency has been recognized numerous times among the nation’s leading agencies by AdAge, AdWeek and O’Dwyers public relations news.

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