Australia’s Marty O’Halloran named global CEO of DDB Worldwide

Marty O’Halloran, the CEO and Chairman of DDB Group Australia and New Zealand, has been promoted to global chief executive officer of DDB Worldwide.

It is the first overseas job for O’Halloran, who said he wanted to prove that you could build an industry-leading agency from Australia and New Zealand.

O’Halloran: ‘You don’t have to be in New York or London to be the best’

“I never chased the big roles overseas because it was always my belief that we could build the best agency in the world here in New Zealand and Australia – you didn’t have to be in New York or London to be the best. Our team down here has proven that, and now it’s my privilege to take that learning and apply it on the global stage,” he said.

He is replacing Wendy Clark, who will soon be joining Dentsu Aegis Network a global CEO.

At the time of Clark’s announcement back in April, Omnicom CEO John Wren said the timing of her move was “unfortunate” given the impacts of COVID-19 on the business and its clients.

Leaders across the business, however, are full of praise for her replacement, with Chuck Brymer, chairman of DDB Worldwide, saying O’Halloran’s had turned DDB Australia and New Zealand into a creative force.

“Marty has a remarkable track record and a relentless focus on adding value. With his guidance and leadership, DDB has become a creative force across Australia and New Zealand,” Brymer said.

“Marty knows that creativity is the most powerful force in business, and has a reputation for delivering long-term success for our clients.”

O’Halloran has been CEO and chairman of DDB Group across Australia and New Zealand since 2005. He will remain the chairman of Australia and New Zealand, and Andrew Little will continue his role as group CEO of DDB Australia.

The global CEO role will see O’Halloran taking on the global DDB network, which spans a team of more than 10,000 people in over 200 offices across 90 countries. It is the first time an Australian has lead the Worldwide group.

“When I started at DDB many years ago as an account manager in Melbourne, I never thought I would become the global leader of one of the industry’s most famous brands,” said O’Halloran.

“But throughout my career, I have worked with many amazing leaders, like Chuck, who have encouraged me to chase my wildest dreams resulting in this incredible opportunity.”

Omnicom’s Wren described O’Halloran as a transformative leader.

“At Omnicom, we place considerable emphasis on succession planning, which is why we continually invest in our talent,” he said.

DDDB underwent a rebrand last year

“Marty is well known within Omnicom as a transformative leader with unique insight into creating successful global brand experiences. With his leadership and commitment, I am confident that DDB is well-positioned for success.”

In 2017, O’Halloran told Mumbrella that the DDB would be stepping back from entering global awards to focus the business on generating client results.

“There’s an absolute obsession with awards and as a result more and more shows have cropped up with more and more categories, and it’s become this sort of game. Everyone is chasing success in that environment,” he said at the time.

“What we’re saying is let’s draw a line in the sand and as a result globally make this stand, but also from a local point of view to direct our people.”

“We’ll still be supporting our local shows, but what you will see is we’ll be really selective in what we do globally and we’ll only be concentrating on the ideas and campaigns that create great results for our clients and are fully supported by our clients and also ideas of scale that have had a positive impact on society rather than clever little ideas that have never had any scale and have made no impact.”

DDB Australia and New Zealand currently holds five agency of the year titles. Last year it won a Gold Lion at Cannes for its Grave of Thrones activation for Foxtel.

In Australia, DDB’s clients include Westpac, McDonald’s, Virgin Australia, Volkswagen, Kmart, LinkedIn, Coles and Johnson & Johnson.


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