After two years of leading Omnicom agency network DDB Worldwide, Wendy Clark has joined the London-based Dentsu Aegis Network as global CEO.
The move puts Clark at the head of a considerably larger team, shifting from a 10,000-person worldwide staff at DDB to a workforce of more than 42,000 at Dentsu’s agencies around the globe.
“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,” said Tim Andree, executive chairman of the network. “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 standout choice for the role.”
In February 2018, Clark was promoted to global CEO of DDB, making her the first woman to lead the network in its top executive role.
Her new role will see her leading a collection of agencies owned by Japanese holding company Dentsu, whose Dentsu Aegis Network includes agencies Carat, Dentsu, Dentsu X, iProspect, Isobar, mcgarrybowen, Merkle, MKTG, Posterscope and Vizeum.
“It is hugely compelling to me to help continue Dentsu’s rich legacy of constant innovation and industry leadership over the last 100 years,” Clark said in a statement about her new role with Dentsu Aegis. “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.”
According to Dentsu Aegis, the network has made 177 acquisitions over the past six years, with the most notable being its $1 billion acquisition of data marketing firm Merkle in 2016.
Dentsu Aegis operates in 145 countries with more than 42,000 employees. DDB has approximately 10,000 employees in 90 countries.
“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,” said Toshi Yamamoto, president and CEO of Dentsu Group, in a statement. “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. Her blend of global marketing experiences makes her the ideal leader for the role and importantly will allow her to marshal our world-class capabilities to align with changing client needs.”
Clark joined DDB in 2016 as its North American CEO and president, arriving after eight years at Coca-Cola, where her most recent role was president of sparkling brands and strategic marketing for North America.
In February 2018, she was promoted to global president and CEO of DDB, succeeding Chuck Brymer, who moved into a chairman role.
Clark’s first year leading DDB was capped off with a major win. In November of 2018, the U.S. Army awarded a 10-year, $4 billion contract to Omnicom, following a pitch led by DDB Chicago.
Last May, Sony selected Adam&eveDDB, part of the the global DDB network, as lead creative agency for PlayStation. In July, grocery giant Kroger named DDB New York as the first creative agency of record in its history.
More recently, DDB has a seen a series of setbacks. Last September, DDB folded We Are Unlimited, the Chicago-based McDonald’s dedicated agency Clark was instrumental in developing as DDB North America president and CEO in 2016, into DDB Chicago after McDonald’s named Wieden + Kennedy New York as its lead creative agency following a review.
In November, State Farm moved lead creative duties from DDB Chicago to fellow Omnicom shop The Marketing Arm. DDB Chicago does remain a roster agency for the client. In January, Capital One ended its 16-year relationship with the agency and selected GSD&M as its new agency of record.
Brymer will now act as interim CEO while DDB searches for a replacement in the role.
“For the 12 years that Chuck ran DDB, he helped build it into a creative powerhouse,” Omnicom chairman and CEO John Wren said in a statement. “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 Wendy’s timing is unfortunate as our people and clients are struggling with the fallout of COVID-19, the network is in more than capable hands with Chuck leading the business.”
“I love everything about DDB but most importantly our people and our clients,” added Brymer, “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.”