JWT hires Martinez from McCann to succeed Bob Jeffrey

JWY, part of the WPP empire, has chosen McCann Worldgroup’s Gustavo Martinez as the eventual successor to global chairman and CEO Bob Jeffrey.

Unknown-10Martinez, 50 (left with Jeffrey) is currently boss of McCann in Europe and Asia but before that worked at WPP agency Ogilvy in a number of senior roles. Jeffrey says he plans to move up to move upstairs to become non-exec chairman in 2015:

“I have had the honor of leading JWT for 15 years, the last ten of them as Worldwide CEO,” he says. “I love JWT – the brands, the clients and most importantly, the people. Throughout 2014, Gustavo and I will work very closely together to guarantee that we continue to provide the very best support to our clients and the agency, and to ensure a seamless transition in 2015.”

How to assess Jeffrey? He’s a nice guy of considerable charm who has needed both those qualities to survive at the top of JWT for so long. JWT, once the most famous agency in the world and the foundation stone of giant marcoms company WPP, which bought it in the 1980s, is not the force it was.

But that might be because WPP has relentlessly pursued its policy of selling the holding company to big clients first; creating any number of bespoke agencies to match their needs, supposedly. Ford, a long-time JWT client in the US, was the first to go this route with WPP’s Team Detroit (Blue Hive in Europe and some other places).

Martinez’s first job (he joins initially as global president of JWT in February next year) will be to put an end to the seemingly endless comings and (mostly) goings in JWT New York’s creative department. Jeff Benjamin, currently CCO of JWT North America, seems to be the only senior creative left there.

Will WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell invest in the once-great agency? Hmm, he seems more concerned these days with his bespoke agency teams. But, on the credit side of the ledger, Ogilvy, Martinez’s old agency, has been given some commercial firepower in the last couple of years – to help it hoover up awards, among other things.

So a tough job for Martinez. And, all things considered, a good job by Jeffrey. Might have been a better one if he’d chosen to throw his toys out of the pram now and then.

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