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Essence names APAC VPs for media planning and activation

GroupM’s Essence has appointed James Smyllie (pictured left) as VP of media planning, APAC and Lee Walsh (pictured right) as VP, media activation, APAC. Both Smyllie and Walsh will be based out of Singapore.

The additions to Essence’s APAC leadership team aim to further strengthen the agency’s skills and capabilities in line with its product vision and business development plans. This comes as the agency continues its rapid growth across the region.

In his new role, Smyllie will head up Essence’s integrated media planning offering across APAC. His expertise is in the areas of innovation, change management and client leadership across sectors, including technology, finance, luxury, travel and automotive. With 17 years of media industry experience, Smyllie was previously international client president at Carat. He has also spent over two years with Starcom.

According to Smyllie, the investments by Essence in people, tools and processes are “very impressive”, making it unquestionably the media agency best set up to help clients grow their businesses in the new economy.

Meanwhile, Walsh will be responsible for leading Essence’s media activation team in APAC, covering programmatic, search, social, as well as reservation media across both online and offline channels. Alongside overseeing media buying and optimisation for all clients in the region, he also will play a key role in driving data-led media partnerships and innovation for the agency. With over 18 years of media industry experience, Walsh was most recently regional managing director at content marketing agency NewBase. He has also worked with Ogilvy in the role of executive director of digital for over five years.

Walsh said over the last few years, he has watched Essence build a reputation as one of the smartest-thinking agencies in the region and aims to help the agency continue its growth across APAC.

“As Essence continues its growth ambitions in APAC, we are thrilled to have James and Lee lead our Media Planning and Media Activation practices, respectively. They are both seasoned leaders, with great depth of expertise in their practices and breadth in their industry experience. Smyllie and Walsh will be tremendous assets to our agency and our product offering to clients,” Kunal Guha, managing director, Central Asia and head of product, APAC said.

Earlier this month, Essence APAC CEO Kyoko Matsushita was appointed as the data and measurement-driven media agency’s global chief client officer. She will be responsible for evolving and nurturing Essence’s global client services practice, overseeing quality of work, boosting organic account growth, and collaborating on new business initiatives.

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