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Calcraft keeps up momentum at Dentsu UK with new leadership team, as Merkle and the regions grow

There’s been yet another round of promotions and hirings at Dentsu Aegis Network UK & Ireland, hence the rather crowded photo.

Stef Calcraft (6th from left) has been extremely busy internally since he became Dentsu UK’s executive chairman at the start of this year. Apparently, staff around the network use the affectionate term, “You’ve been Steffed,” to describe the inevitable moment when he turns his spotlight on you.

Externally, though, Calcraft — a founder of Mother, former BBH account director and Unilever marketer — has been very quiet. The only clues to his strategy come in carefully crafted press statements. This latest one puts the emphasis on his “multi-skilled entrepreneurial team of progressive thinkers” and the “next phase of growth.”

Kate Howe from B2B agency gyro becomes chief growth officer; James Connelly from mobile agency Fetch is chief strategic development officer; and media brands CEO Matthew Platts moves up to chief commercial officer.

There’s also new a chief people officer from Sky and a CFO from Liberty International. They join the list of new Dentsu leaders including Pippa Glucklich as CEO of trading arm Amplifi, and Jo Sutherland (another Fetch alumnus) as CEO of Carat UK.

Not forgetting Rachel McDonald, the first MD of Dentsu North. One of Dentsu’s quiet strengths is that it’s a properly regional agency, with offices in Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh, a set-up that looks ahead of the curve when Channel 4 is moving to Leeds and the BBC is well established at Salford Quays.

Another focus at Dentsu is the European expansion of performance marketing agency Merkle. Dentsu bought US-based Merkle for $1.5 billion two years ago, and last year appointed a head of mergers and acquisitions for Europe, iCrossing’s Julia Crawley-Boevey.

New business-wise, Merkle is already paying off at a global level, playing a big part in two major wins last month, the $300 million global Intel account and the global United Airlines media business. Crucially, in May, Dentsu held on to its $1.5 billion Microsoft account.

The importance of Merkle hasn’t passed Calcraft by, and last week he hired Maddie Armitage, EE’s head of digital products, as Dentu’s chief data officer for the UK. Her remit is to “fully leverage the power of Merkle for the network.”

Creative agency Mcgarrybowen seems to be the weakest link in the Dentsu Aegis chain, particularly in the UK, where the agency lost Western Union to BBH London earlier this year.

Maybe Mcgarrybowen UK, run by former BBH chief strategy officer Jason Gonsalves, does as much as it needs to. According to Nielsen, its billings were up 31 per cent to £17 million in 2017 thanks to becoming the global hub for creative duties on American Express. This year the agency has won Mothercare and done some good work for them.

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