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Does Tamara Ingram’s elevation to global client czar indicate a new course for WPP?

Who’s the most important suit in a big agency – the CEO or the person who handles the biggest account? The two may be the same, obviously.

In the US it’s often been the account baron, just because some of the accounts are so big and so many jobs depend on them. WPP, as is its wont, has produced a different spin on this, forming ‘Team’ this and that for its largest accounts, headed by uber account barons.

One such is Tamara Ingram (below), head of WPP’s Team P&G, essentially a construct of Grey which brought Procter & Gamble into the WPP orbit. Now Ingram, one time head of Saatchi in London and also McCann before she joined Grey, has become even more uber-ish, becoming WPP’s chief client officer (so that’s a different CCO then) on all WPP’s global accounts.

In which role she will work with Satish Korde, CEO of Team Detroit (Ford) and Debby Reiner from Grey New York, newly ennobled as president Grey/Global P&G.

Does this mean anything in terms of WPP’s structure and the prospects for its executives or is it just a case of a well-deserved promotion and some timely extra love for P&G, which just happens to be reviewing its $3bn US media account?

For decades WPP, like most of its marcoms rivals, has had network chiefs but no-one really with over-arching responsibilities apart from CEO Sir Martin Sorrell. Eric Salama runs the Kantar research division and Mark Read ran digital until he became CEO of Wunderman. Both stepped down from the main WPP board when they took up their operational responsibilities.

But the company is so big now ($12bn in revenue, $40bn in billings) and so structured (with client-centric teams) that something has to change.

Ingram’s promotion is a long way from being a succession plan for Sorrell but the emergence of people with cross-network global responsibilities may offer a clue of sorts to the next top generation at WPP.

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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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