UM adds MD role in Sydney, poaching MediaCom’s Ben McCallum

Ben McCallum has swapped WPP for IPG Mediabrands, to take on the role of managing director for UM’s Sydney office, effective 1 February 2022.

In his new role, he will work alongside Sophie Bingham, currently on maternity leave, to lead the Sydney offering, reporting directly into CEO, Anathea Ruys.

Bingham was appointed as general manager in Sydney in 2019, and is now a group director, with Gareth Nicholls holding the GM role in Melbourne, where Ruys is now based. The Melbourne office does not have a managing director role, as Ruys said the scale of UM Sydney and the agency’s clients in the market warranted “an increased seniority in the role that leads the Sydney office and offering”.

McCallum, Sydney Harbourside

“Media has never been a more exciting and challenging environment as we focus on the best way to connect brands and people and it is critical that we have leaders across the business that can help make that complexity simple for our clients, teams and industry,” said Ruys.

McCallum will be tasked with “continuing to build a high performing culture” for talent as well as driving strategic growth for clients, bringing experience from across global network names including MediaCom, where he has been since 2015, moving from the UK where he was group investment director for Publicis’ ZenithOptimedia. He also previously worked at GroupM’s MEC.

“I’m ambitious for my team and our clients,” said McCallum. “Ultimately, our success is defined by our ability to help our clients to grow. I’m excited about of the level of sophistication that is evident at UM and the way we can help clients to accelerate growth with technology, media and big ideas. I’m looking forward to seeing UM continue to fly and to my next chapter within this dynamic industry and business.


Ruys continued: “Having a world-class leader such as Ben in this pivotal position for UM will enable growth and stretch for our internal talent, allow us to have visibility across the market and industry, and provide deep partnership with our most senior clients. I am delighted he is joining the team.”

Last week saw Coca-Cola move its media account the opposite direction to McCallum’s move, as part of a global alignment to MediaCom, and WPP more widely. UM previously retained the brand’s South-Pacific account in 2019, first winning it from Ikon in 2014.

The loss for UM comes after retaining major clients in 2021 including Tourism Australia and the Australia Government’s master media account. Ruys was appointed as the new CEO in March, after Mediabrands announced Fiona Johnston’s departure a week prior.

Ruys said: “I am proud of our continued momentum at UM and look forward to inspiring growth across our clients’ business in 2022. Ben’s natural curiosity, real commitment and focus on people – which aligns very strongly with my approach to leadership – and his real love of the way brands can use media to drive real change for their businesses will ensure success for our team and our clients going forward.”

Yaron Farizon, CEO of MediaCom Australia said: “Ben is a fantastic example of MediaCom’s drive for excellence as we help our clients See the Bigger Picture, at the same time as having fun. He has been a key part of the leadership team at the agency and will be missed by our team and our partners, but the time is right for him to move on to another challenge. We will announce his replacement in due course, and we wish him well in his next venture.”


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