Wendy Clark swaps global CEO role at DDB for Dentsu Aegis Network

Wendy Clark has stepped down as global CEO at Omnicom’s DDB to take up the same role at Dentsu Aegis Network, effective from September.

Omnicom CEO John Wren said the timing of her resignation was “unfortunate” give the impacts of COVID-19 on the business and its clients. Her departure will see Chuck Brymer, the current chair of DDB who previously held her position, assume additional responsibilities while the company searches for Clark’s replacement.

“For the 12 years that Chuck ran DDB, he helped build it into a creative powerhouse. I have the utmost confidence in his leadership, especially in these uncertain times, to steer DDB to new growth as we look for new leadership,” said Wren.

“While Wendy’s timing is unfortunate as our people and clients are struggling with the fall-out of COVID-19, the network is in more than capable hands with Chuck leading the business.”

Clark has been with DDB for more than four years, splitting her time there as global president and CEO, and North America CEO. Before joining DDB, she spent eight years at Coca-Cola in global and regional operating roles, and has also held positions at AT&T and GSD&M.

She said it was an incredible honour and deep responsibility to be joining DAN at this crucial time.

“Given such unprecedented global change it’s more important than ever that we’re completely focused on creating insightful, informed, important ideas for brands, businesses and their customers,” she said.

She added that Dentsu has a “rich legacy of constant innovation and industry leadership”, leading to a distinct competitive advantage.

“I’ve had the privilege of working for brands and companies with powerful heritages and that’s informed my enduring belief that great brands and companies benefit from having a foot in their past and a foot in their future,” Clark said.

“It’s a massive competitive advantage that Dentsu has decades of know-how and experience that serve both as a foundation and a built-in benchmark to continue to drive the company forward.”

When the world “emerges from this significant period of change and turbulence”, Clark is looking forward to meeting Dentsu’s global workforce “so we can roll up our sleeves and get to work creating value and impact for our clients, together”.

Clark will report to executive chair of the Network, Tim Andree, who has been acting as CEO – and leading the search for a permanent leader – in a caretaker capacity for the past 15 months. Andree took a health-related leave of absence in January, returning to his role as director of Dentsu Group Inc last month. He will return to his other roles in a phased approach.

“Following a thorough and considered global search, I am happy to welcome Wendy as our new CEO and look forward to working together to drive our ambitious agenda forward,” Andree said.

“With her combined experience of walking in the shoes of the client, coupled with her leadership in running a large global creative agency network, Wendy is the stand-out choice for the role.

“Wendy will join us as the world is emerging from a period of unprecedented challenges. I am confident that her strong leadership style and comprehensive experience will inspire our people, connect with our clients to help drive their brands forward and continue our focus on providing integrated global solutions while building excellence into every part of the rapidly changing marketing ecosystem we serve.”

While Andree phases back into the business, president and CEO of Dentsu Group Inc, Toshi Yamamoto, will continue to act as executive chair and CEO of DAN.

“This is a key time for our business as we bring Dentsu Aegis Network and Dentsu Japan Network closer together for the benefit of clients and our people,” Yamamoto said.

“Our philosophy is that innovation can come from anyone, anywhere, and it is clear Wendy shares our passion for discovering new and better ways to solve client challenges and will be motivating and inspiring for our global workforce.”

In December, the holding group announced it would make approximately 11% of jobs redundant across seven markets, including Australia, as part of a restructure. That restructure was initially announced in the previous month, coinciding with a revenue decline of 12.3% in quarter three of FY2019 due to “no green shoots of recovery” in the Australian market.

Dentsu’s turbulence in the local market came to a head at the end of last year when CEO Henry Tajer was unexpectedly ousted after less than a year in the role, replaced immediately by Angela Tangas. Tajer had started his own local restructure of the holding group, involving multiple redundancies, but APAC CEO Ashish Bhasin said the exit of Tajer and CFO Reg Davidson was the “right decision”.

As for DDB, Brymer – who joined the agency in 2006 as worldwide CEO – said he is looking forward to the opportunity to return to the role.

“I love everything about DDB but most importantly our people and our clients,” he said.

“It is a company with amazing creative talent and energy. I look forward to getting back to work to help drive our success even further.”


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