The changing of the guard continues apace at BBH, now wholly-owned by Publicis Groupe, but it’s still a surprise to see group CEO Gwyn Jones (left) stepping down after just a couple of years (albeit with 27 years at the agency in total).
Jones will be replaced by COO Neil Munn, a former Unilever marketer.
Jones joined BBH as a graduate trainee and rose rapidly through the ranks in London and then to manage New York before taking a group role.
He says: “I have been incredibly fortunate to spend my whole career at BBH. It has been a hugely rewarding time and has given me the opportunity to do most jobs in an agency, to live and work oversees, and to do so alongside the best and nicest people in the business. John (Bartle), Nigel (Bogle) and John (Hegarty) built an amazing culture here.
“Culture is the thing that binds and builds a business more than anything and BBH has the best culture going, it isn’t easy to leave. But 27 years is a long time and variety is the spice of life so, when I’ve taken a break, I have some other investments and opportunities that I want to pursue and maybe spend a little less time on planes.”
Munn has been at BBH for ten years. He joined from Unilever where he was global marketing director on Axe which became Unilever’s fastest growing brand doubling in size during his four years in charge. He launched and ran BBH’s venturing company ZAG before becoming COO.
BBH group chairman Simon Sherwood (another veteran) says: “The timing is great for Neil. We are a more mature business, owned by a holding company. Neil is perfect casting for what is now needed from the Group CEO, he has proper marketing and comms pedigree, is highly commercial with a deep understanding of Client organisations and brands, and has a truly global perspective. I know that his leadership style will be very effective for the business we now are.”
And, indeed, BBH is a different business these day although the agency’s commitment to creativity seems as strong as ever. Neogama founder Alexandre Gama has succeeded Sir John Hegarty as CCO although remaining founders Hegarty and Sir Nigel Bogle remain much in evidence.
The leaders of all Publicis Groupe’s agencies were unsettled by the Omnicom/Publicis merger neotatiations (as were Omnicom’s) with no-one really knowing what the future held. With the merger aborted it’s now business as before but PG agencies are also waiting to see who eventually succeeds Maurice Levy as CEO. Publicis Worldwide CEO Arthur Sadoun is the crrent favourite.