Laura Lang, head of the digital advertising powerhouse Digitas, will soon be named as Time Inc.'s new CEO, and with her Wharton MBA and busy background in forward-thinking marketing strategy, she'll be expected to bring in new dollars. The Wall Street Journal broke the news of the high profile hire on Wednesday morning, careful to emphasize the "murky print-advertising picture and the migration of consumers to digital devices" that Lang will face at Time, but according to the many fawning profiles of her in advertising trade mags, Lang seems like the right kind of post-print executive the aging, massive magazine publisher needs. (After all, she does run a company called Digitas.) Lang is even on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare, though she's said she doesn't have time to use any of them.
Lang will join Time Inc. at a particularly tumultuous period. Compared to its competitors, Time Inc. has sort of gone rogue when it comes to navigating the evolving, Apple-dominated digital media landscape. On one hand it's been working; having kept its titles out of the iTunes subscription service, the company has actually managed to grow circulation. Having been CEO-less since the firing of Jack Griffin in February, Time Inc. is overdue to bring on a fearless leader that can keep the momentum going. And along those lines Lang faces no small task bringing some stable leadership to the media behemoth. Also brought in as an outside, Griffin had only been on the job six months before "a revolt by senior executives," in Adweek's words, lead to his ousting. Time Inc.'s editor-in-chief John Huey reportedly referred to himself and the two other executives who've been running the company since -- CFO Howard Averill and general counsel Maurice Edelson -- as a "junta" and said it had been a “pretty eventful and unusual year” for Time Inc.
In some respects, Lang's a pro at transitions. In 2007, when she was the CEO of the American wing of Digitas, one of the world's largest digital agencies with 3,000 employees in 19 countries, Lang was named among the "Women to Watch" by AdvertisingAge, who described her as a marketing executive who "loves improvisation" and praised her "strategic, quick thinking." She took over as global CEO of Digitas in 2008 and led the company's expansion to Australia, Brazil, India, Singapore and Sweden. Last year, Lang sounded hip and with it by listing off the social networks she'd joined in an interview with Boston magazine. "Linked In? foursquare? Yes, yes, yes, yes," she said. "My only challenge is that I don't have enough time to spend on all of them. I'd be overwhelmed if I was on it all of the time." She's only tweeted 28 times but based on this tweet, her third, she gets what the kids are into: