Danny Bass quits GroupM to take CEO role at rival IPG Mediabrands

danny bass henry tajerAustralia’s most powerful media buyer, GroupM’s investment director Danny Bass, has jumped ship form the WPP company to take the role of CEO at rival IPG Mediabrands.

The move sees Bass take charge of IPG’s agencies including UM and Initiative, having controlled more than $2bn in ad spend at GroupM, which has agencies including MEC, Mediacom, Mindshare and Maxus.

Bass had been one of the favourites to take over from GroupM CEO John Steedman who is set to retire next month.

Instead he replaces former Mediabrands Australia CEO Henry Tajer, who moved up to a global role this month. While Tajer admitted he was “not surprised” by speculation his replcaement would come from inside the Mediabrands ranks he said the role was very different from that played by UM CEO Mat Baxter, one of the favourites to succeed him.Bass’ move comes two months after revelations of misuse of ‘value banks’ – heavily discounted or free ad space given to media agencies by media owners in return for increased share of advertiser spend – at GroupM’s biggest agency Mediacom, amid a wider scandal about misreporting of TV audience figures to clients.

While Bass was not implicated in that scandal, he had been tasked with creating and spearheading an internal GroupM team to make sure those issues did not happen again.

Bass had been leading GroupM’s negotiations with TV networks over annual rates, and caused a stir in the market by firing a broadside at the medium as a whole a fortnight ago claiming the model was “breaking”.

He took the chief investment officer role after James Parkinson returned to the UK in 2013.

The departure of Henry Tajer from the local CEO role to take the reins globally of the agency group earlier this year had led to speculation it may lead to an internal promotion, with UM’s CEO Mat Baxter and former Ikon CEO and current Mediabrands group commercial director Dan Johns among names thought to be in the frame.

Speaking to Mumbrella Tajer said: “I’m not surprised some people may have thought we would have gone internally. We looked internally definitely, but people play different roles and have different skill sets within the MediaBrands business.

“The role I’ve played is very different to the role Mat plays at UM. It’s really about finding the person to step into MediaBrands role at a MediaBrands level and leverage the great momentum Mat has at UM.”

He added the process had “been very open internally in terms of candidates”.

Tajer also played down the fact Bass will move across from rivals GroupM, saying that had “not been a factor” in the decision, and playing down any rivalry between the two buying groups as “one sided”.

He added he was “surprised” by the reaction of TV bosses to Bass’ comments about the medium, and said he while he “supported Danny, but I alwo support the networks” saying they were working hard to make improvements and change their models.

Alex Hayes

The release:

Danny Bass has been appointed chief executive officer of IPG Mediabrands Australia. The announcement was made by the Group’s Global CEO of IPG Mediabrands Henry Tajer, who said Bass was offered the CEO position after a search across international markets and the Australian industry.

Bass will start work at IPG Mediabrands at a date to be confirmed and at that time Tajer will become chairman of the Australia operations. Joining Tajer and Bass at the group level is Reg Davidson, who last week was named chief operating officer of IPG IPG Mediabrands Australia.

“Danny Bass became a clear choice as the ideal leader for the 600 plus people who work in the Australia group, our skill sets, client relationships and valuable external partnerships,” said Tajer. “He is a future-facing, highly effective leader who is a perfect fit for the way we progress as a business and work as a national team.”

Bass is currently chief investment and intelligence officer for GroupM Australia. Prior to that he was GroupM’s chief digital officer and was previously national sales director for News Digital Media.

“Both internationally and in this market IPG Mediabrands Australia is known as a top-class and highly effective group with very impressive integrated communications capabilities,” said Bass. “Henry, Reg and the Board of Directors have built a very powerful resource for their clients and it is nothing short of an honour to be asked to lead the Group. It’s an amazing challenge and I am looking forward to it enormously.”

When he starts work at IPG Mediabrands Bass will report directly to Tajer, who said, “The Australian business is the second largest and most innovative group in the IPG Mediabrands worldwide network, so retaining close and constant contact with Danny and developments in Australia will be a top priority for me.”

Tajer added; “At a personal level, I have long admired and respected Danny’s work as a competitor. Through our industry contact over time and more recently discussing the IPG Mediabrands opportunity, I know Danny to be a thoroughly decent person. It is a huge coup for us that he’s accepted the position and I am looking forward to having him on board,” said Tajer.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.