Naked founder Jon Wilkins heads to Sydney for major Photon role

Jon Wilkins, one of the trio whose creation of the communications agency Naked helped change the global media planning landscape, is to move to Australia, the company announced to the ASX today.

The gravitas that 42-year-old Wilkins will bring when he arrives early next year will be a massive asset for Naked’s Australia operation which lost local co-founder Mat Baxter earlier this year.  

Naked was founded in the UK in 2000 after Wilkins – along with John Harlow and Will Collin – worked together at media agency PHD.

The trio’s sucess at Naked was based on leaving commoditised media buying to traditionalmedia agencies and focusing on the strategy behind a central communications idea. The agency launched offices in ten countries around the world. Last year, they sold Naked to Sydney-based Photon for $37m.

Mark Holden, currently a managing partner of PHD Australia, who worked at PHD London during Naked’s rise there, told Mumbrella: “This willl be huge for Naked (Australia). Although Jon was voted one of the nicest people in advertising by Campaign magazine, don’t let that fool you. Underneath the surface, he’s a super-smart, wily operator. He’s got a great grasp of managing people and has very good human skills. He’s a very classy operator and should bring Naked some much needed new energy.”

Wilkins will come to Australia as managing director of Photon’s integrated communications and digital division. Sitting within that group are Photon’s biggest assets – BMF, BWM and AdPartners.

However, his arrival will not necessarily rebalance the original chemistry of Naked Sydney, following this year’s sudden departure of Mat Baxter. The success of the Naked London was said to come partly from the three different characters behind it – labelled as the arrogant one (Harlow), the clever one (Collin)  and the sensible one (Wilkins).

The agency applied the same model – which Wilkins once somewhat controversially described as being in cells “like al-Qaeda” – when it launched in Australia. In remaining founding partners Adam Ferrier and Mike Wilson, Naked Australia already has the clever one and the sensible one. Now it has another sensible one.

According to Naked: “His area of responsibility will be business development in Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand. Jon will working with all offices in the region including Melbourne, Auckland and Tokyo.  Further, he will be working with, and developing clients in India and China.”

Photon chairman Tim Hughes said: “Jon’s global experience across the full spectrum of communications platforms will be integral to the division maintaining its market leading position and consumer focus.”

Wilkins also worked in the legendary media department of the British agency BMP. Other BMP graduates in Australia include Wilson and Group M’s James Parkinson

Meanwhile, Photon also told the ASX that Mark Dalgleish is to become MD of its internet and e-commerce division. he is CEO and founder of digital agency C4.


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