Wunderman Thompson CEO John Gutteridge departs with Lee Leggett taking the helm

CEO of Wunderman Thompson, John Gutteridge, is stepping down from the role with former Initiative CEO Lee Leggett taking over, effective immediately.

Gutteridge has been the CEO of the agency since the merger of WPP AUNZ creative agencies JWT and Wunderman early last year. Prior to that he was the Australasia CEO of JWT for ten years.

Gutteridge was CEO of JWT for ten years before taking on the Wunderman Thompson merger

Gutteridge said leading the merger of the two agencies in Australia was a ‘fulfilling experience’ but now it was time to move onto a new opportunity.

“It’s been a fulfilling experience and thanks to the hard work of the team we’ve got a very strong proposition. But with the two brands now successfully working together and the business heading into its next phase, it was always my intention to hand the business over once the merger was complete,” he said.

“It’s the perfect time for Lee to take over and I wish her all the very best. I’m now moving onto a new and very different opportunity, which I’m feeling really energised by, I look forward to sharing more details in due course. My time with WPP and Wunderman Thompson has been a very positive experience, providing the chance to work with some really talented and inspiring people from around the world, I look forward to watching their continued success.”

WPP AUNZ CEO Jens Monsees said: “We would like to thank John for his commitment to the business and helping to achieve the successful merger of Wunderman Thompson to become the data and technology powerhouse it now is. We wish him well for the future.”

Gutteridge joins the list of WPP AUNZ creative CEOs who have moved on from the holding group after overseeing agency mergers.

The merger of agencies VML and Y&R saw Pete Bosilkovski and Aden Hepburn join forces as co-CEOs of VMLY&R. Bosilkovski departed after seven months and is now the CEO of Clemenger BBDO Sydney. Hepburn soon followed, with Jon Bird taking over as sole CEO of the agency.

When The White Agency and Grey Group came together to form White Grey in 2017, WPP AUNZ appointed joint CEOs Paul Worboys and Miles Joyce. Worboys and Joyce left within weeks of each other in early 2018, and current CEO Lee Simpson took over.

Leggett was previously the CEO of Initiative

Leggett takes over Wunderman Thompson after four years of consulting at Australian agencies including Havas, We Are Social and in the Publicis Groupe.

Between 2014 and 2016 she was the CEO of media agency Initiative, and prior to that she was the CEO of Dare in London for seven years.

Monsees said Leggett’s appointment marks the start of a ‘new era’.

“Lee is a consummate leader driven by a focus on delivering impact through partnership, relationships and collaboration. Together, Lee and her team will start a new era at Wunderman Thompson utilising her vast digital knowledge and international experience to closely align the brand with the global WT positioning. I look forward to her contribution to the broader company, as we continue our transformation,” he said.

Leggett commented that she was drawn to Wunderman Thompson’s ‘drive for innovation’.

“I’m delighted to be joining the Wunderman Thompson business. I’ve always looked for opportunities that provide the chance to both lead and work side by side with teams that are driven by new and innovative approaches. I believe I’ve found that at Wunderman Thompson and am looking forward to working with Jens and the broader global team as we further consolidate the agency’s leading market position,” she said.

Leggett will be based in Wunderman Thompson’s Sydney office.


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.