DDB's Wendy Clark joins Dentsu Aegis Network as global CEO

Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) has named Wendy Clark global CEO, effective September 2020. Clark (pictured) joins from DDB Worldwide where she is currently the global president and CEO. Before Omnicom Group, Clark spent seven years at The Coca-Cola Company in global and regional operating roles, culminating in her promotion to Coca-Cola's president of sparkling brands and strategic marketing.

She has almost 30 years of industry experience as a delivery-focused leader, having worked for global brands such as AT&T. Clark is also recognised for her modern leadership approach that includes her philosophy "Lift as you climb", translating to taking talent with you as you grow. 

Clark will report to Tim Andree, DAN's executive chairman and will be appointed executive officer Dentsu Group at the same time as she joins the network in September, with the approval of the board of Denstu Group. Andree has been the executive chairman of DAN since its founding in 2013, adding the CEO role to his responsibilities for the past 15 months, and he has led the search process. The role was previously held by Jerry Buhlmann, who stepped down in November 2018 after nine years.

Interestingly, Clark first set foot into an ad agency, not as an account executive or a junior copywriter, but rather as a receptionist. In a previous interview with Marketing, Clark said: “If you would have told me back when I first started that one day I’d be global CEO of a network, I’d have never believed it! You could have knocked me over with a feather if you told me this back then."

Clark told Marketing then that she often feels it is her responsibility to bring women forward with her, as she advances in her career. "If my journey and my career is just about one person’s success, that’s just a real waste and shame. What I have tried to do in every step of my career is bring people with me – particularly women. I want to create a wealth of opportunities around me that carries other people with me. That’s perhaps the most fulfilling thing in my career," she added.

(Read also: From receptionist to CEO: Meet DDB’s first female global CEO Wendy Clark)

Separately, Clark explained that it is hugely compelling for her to help continue Dentsu's rich legacy of constant innovation and industry leadership over the last 100 years. "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. 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," she added.

Meanwhile, 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, Clark is "the stand-out choice" for the role.

“Her experience is hugely complementary to DAN’s growth plans over the coming decade where Dentsu’s long-standing history of client-centricity combined with an ability to deliver fully integrated solutions will be critical. Clark will join us as the world is emerging from a period of unprecedented challenges," he said.

Andree added that he is confident that her strong leadership style and comprehensive experience will inspire its people, connect with its clients to help drive their brands forward and continue its focus on providing integrated global solutions while building excellence into every part of the rapidly changing marketing ecosystem it serves.

Separately, Andree has been on a health-related leave of absence since January and returned to his role as director of Dentsu Group last month. He will return to his other roles at Dentsu and DAN in a phased approach. During this period, president and CEO of Dentsu Group, Toshi Yamamoto, continues as acting executive chairman and CEO of DAN.

Meanwhile at DDB, current chairman and former global CEO Chuck Brymer will assume additional responsibilities for the agency while a search is conducted to find new leadership. Brymer joined DDB as worldwide CEO in 2006. Under his leadership, he oversaw the continued ranking of DDB as one of the most creative and successful agencies in the world. He also expanded DDB's stature and geographical footprint, through the acquisition of adam&eve in the UK, Mudra in India and Grupo ABC in Brazil.

John Wren, chairman and CEO, Omnicom Group, said for the 12 years that Brymer 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. While Clark'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 Brymer leading the business," Wren added.

Brymer said he loves everything about DDB but most importantly its people and its clients. "It is an agency with amazing creative talent and energy. I look forward to getting back to work to help drive our success even further," he added.

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