Execs upped, 4,000 cuts in VNU revamp


VNU Group has named Nielsen Media Research president and CEO Susan Whiting to the newly created post of VNU executive vp.

Whiting's new role will give her responsibility for VNU's global marketing, research and development and product leadership across the entire company, and she will advise VNU's board. She still will report to VNU chairman and CEO David Calhoun and will continue to oversee the Nielsen Media Research division, rising from her current post to becoming chairman of that group. (VNU Group is the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.)

Meanwhile, VNU said Jack Loftus has been promoted to chief communications officer for the entire company. Loftus had been senior vp and chief communications officer at Nielsen Media Research and the MMI Group. Loftus' new role will have him responsible for VNU's internal and external communications as well as other efforts.

The appointments of Whiting and Loftus come as VNU confirmed plans to reduce its cost base company-wide by 10% during the course of the next year, a program that will include the elimination of as many as 4,000 positions, VNU said. VNU was acquired by a consortium of private equity firms in May. Calhoun joined VNU as chairman and CEO in August after a 27-year career at General Electric.

"We operate our businesses in markets that are becoming more complex and more fragmented and more technology-driven than ever," Calhoun said. "The changes we are making today will help us integrate the media and consumer information that our clients need to suceed."

Whiting has worked at Nielsen since 1978, when she joined the company as a management trainee. She has worked in every part of Nielsen since, becoming general manager of National Services and Emerging Markets in 1997 and president and chief operating officer in 2001. Whiting was named CEO nine months later and in 2005 also assumed the title of president and CEO of VNU Media Measurement and Information. She is a member of VNU's operating committee and a member of the board of Nielsen//NetRatings and Wilmington Trust Corp. She graduated from Denison University with a bachelor's degree in economics.

Loftus joined Nielsen Media Research in 1990 as vp communications. He became senior vp and chief communications officer in 1998. Before joining Nielsen, Loftus was executive editor of Act III, television-radio editor of Variety and vp communications at the Madison Square Garden Corp. He has also worked at Television Digest, United Press International, the Office of Telecommunications and Policy and for five years worked at CBS Inc. in Washington and New York.