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Cheil poaches new biz whizz Catherine Davis from Grey

Once upon a time there were new business directors, then there were chief marketing officers and now, in agencies of course, there are chief growth officers.

unnamedCatherine Davis (left) has swapped her CMO hat at Grey London to becomes CGO of Cheil UK, which is doubtless very nice for and Cheil, which says she was involved in winning 64 accounts at Grey since joining in 2009. She has also worked at RKCR/Y&R, Leo Burnett and TBWA.

Not so nice for Grey through, which also lost highly-rated London CEO Chris Hirst to Havas in February. Cheil and Havas won’t be seeing much of their new star hirings for a few months yet though, as Grey owner WPP imposes draconian ‘gardening leave’ restrictions.

Cheil, once the in-house agency for homeland client Samsung, is on a hiring spree at the moment, determined to turn itself into a global player.

At the start of the year it hired Brit Malcolm Poynton as global CCO and followed this with two more, Luke Ashton and Dean Pinnington, as global creative directors (lot of ‘globals’ around these days too). On the new business front it hired Lotta Malm-Hallqvist from McCann as global CGO.

Cheil UK COO Matt Pye (chief operating officer for those with C-Suite issues) says: “Cat’s new business record at Grey speaks for itself..this underlines Cheil’s ambition to secure rapid growth with high-quality clients. It’s a really exciting time to be part of the Cheil network.”

Davis says: “The opportunity to join Cheil, an agency with the ambition and passion to become a force to be reckoned with locally, regionally and globally, is one that was too great to resist. It’s an incredibly exciting agency to be at right now.

“I’ve had an incredible six years at Grey. It’s been fantastic being a senior part of their turnaround story and I’m now relishing a new challenge.”

Can Cheil live up to these brave words? It has still to win many, if any, of the aforementioned high-quality clients – apart from Samsung, of course.

From a UK perspective it might help if the capable Pye moved up the ‘C’ list from COO to CEO. Most clients know what a CEO is and probably expect to meet one.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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