Laura Desmond was one of the youngest CEOs when appointed to lead SMG globally in 2008, but that was only the first of many marks she has made on the agency and communications business since. She is regarded throughout the industry as a game-changer, a true innovator and the lead architect in building the media agency of the future. Commanding a staff of over 8,000 employees, across 100 offices globally, Ms Desmond attracts diverse talent and executives who bring unconventional thinking to reinvigorate the role of a media network. She has ushered in and nurtured relationships with some of the biggest and most successful marketers worldwide including Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Mars, Mondelez, Kellogg’s, Honda, Walmart and Kraft Foods. She is also recognised for ushering in a new breed of partnerships that are deeply rooted in co-creation, data and analytics, and creativity fueled by technology, among them, recent partnerships with Twitter, Acxiom, Tencent and Facebook.
Prior to leading the global network, Ms Desmond was CEO of SMG-The Americas where she grew Starcom, MediaVest and Spark brands across the US, Canada and Latin America. She first received national recognition when she was CEO of MediaVest from 2003-07, during which she raked in new business wins and scored the recognition “Media Executive of the Year” from Mediaweek as well as Adweek “Agency of the Year” award several years in a row.
Ms Desmond has also been commended for her leadership, mentorship and contribution to the marketing world. She was named “Ad Woman of the Year” (AWNY, 2009), recognised in The Wall Street Journal's Creative Leadership Series (2007) and the "Women to Watch" issue (2006). She was also awarded the Advertising Age “Media Maven” honor (2005) and inducted into the American Advertising Federation's Advertising Hall of Achievement (2005). Forbes named her as one of the world’s most powerful women in the world and she was honoured by New York Women In Communications with the prestigious Matrix Award and by Advertising Age as one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Advertising.” In addition, Ms Desmond served as a 2012 Cannes International Festival of Creativity Titanium jury member alongside the highest regarded group of marketers to judge the best work the industry has to offer. Most recently, she was named by the Chicago Advertising Federation “2014 Advertising Woman of the Year”. Ms Desmond is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Ad Council and sits on the Board of Directors for Adobe Systems.
During her tenure, Starcom MediaVest Group has earned more honors for its work and talent than any other media network in the world, including being named “Media Network of the Year” at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2014, “Network of the Year” by Festival of Media (2011, 2013, 2014) and ranked No. 1 Global Media Agency by Advertising Age (2010, 2011, 2013). Additionally, SMG was named a leader in the “New Interactive Landscape” by Forrester, and “Most Effective Network” at the North American Effies, making SMG the first media agency to receive these recognitions.