Mark Penn’s career spans 40 years in advertising, market research, public relations, polling, and consulting. A renowned strategist and political analyst, Penn has advised top world leaders, led some of the world’s preeminent tech and marketing companies, and written two bestselling books.
Penn currently serves as Chairman and CEO of MDC Partners, a global network of the world’s most innovative advertising, public relations, branding, digital, social, and event marketing agency partners. He is also President and Managing Partner of The Stagwell Group, a digital marketing company which he founded. Across both entities, he has stewarded the development of next-generation proprietary marketing services technology; most recently, he launched PRophet – the first-ever AI-driven platform to help public relations professionals predict media reach, sentiment, and spread before a story is pitched.
Prior to founding Stagwell, Penn served in senior executive positions at Microsoft, including Chief Strategy Officer, a role in which he blended keen data-analytics with creativity to evolve the company’s core strategy and set it on a new course for growth.
Penn’s experience in growing, building, and managing agencies is well-documented. As the co-founder of market research firm Penn Schoen Berland, he demonstrated value-creation in a crowded industry, serving clients by architecting innovative polling and ad testing methods used by president and major corporations, and was the first to pioneer overnight polling. After selling Penn Schoen Berland to WPP, he also became CEO of Burson-Marsteller and managed the two companies to record profit growth during that period.
A globally recognized strategist, Penn has advised corporate and political leaders across the globe. For six years, he served as White House Pollster to President Bill Clinton, and was a senior advisor in his 1996 re-election campaign. He is renowned for his political and polling insight, including his identification of “Soccer Moms” as the key swing vote cohort needed for victory in the 1996 campaign. So integral were his insights that the Washington Post wrote that no other pollster had become “so thoroughly integrated into the policymaking operation” of a presidential administration. Penn later served as chief strategist to Hillary Clinton in her Senate campaigns and 2008 Presidential campaign, devising her successful NY “upstate strategy” and creating the impactful “3 AM” ad in the 2008 primaries. Internationally, he helped elect more than 25 leaders in Asia, Latin America, and Europe, including Tony Blair and Menachem Begin.
Dubbed by Time Magazine as the “Master of the Message,” Penn is a well-known thought-leader. He has authored a pair of two best-selling books, “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes” and “Microtrends Squared: The New Small Forces Driving the Big Disruptions Today,” and has written for the Wall Street Journal, Time, POLITICO, The Hill, and the Huffington Post, among others.
Penn earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and attended Columbia Law School. He is a visiting lecturer at Harvard College, where he teaches courses on Public Opinion.