Ellis leaves Wunderman Thompson, more top level departures are surely on the cards

Wunderman UK ECD Abi Ellis (left) has resigned from the agency after a disciplinary investigation.

The investigation, first reported by Campaign in December, was triggered after a Wunderman employee made a complaint via WPP’s confidential Right to Speak helpline.

As ever with these things, we don’t know what the complaint was. But it’s safe to say that whoever’s manning Right to Speak is probably busy, given that WPP employs over 100,000 people although the number is going down.

Greater London House in London’s Camden, which houses Wunderman (although not JWT with which it’s merging – still ensconced in glitzy Knightsbridge) and another WPP merged agency in VMLY&R is probably looking rather depleted. VMLY&R CEO Jon Sharpe left in December following another such investigation, hard on the heels of Y&R’s management team lead by Paul Lawson and Jon Burley (hope we’ve spelt his name right this time, sorry Jon) who found themselves surplus to requirements.

Wunderman Thompson, as it’s to be known, has some hard choices to make. Wunderman’s CEO is Pip Hulbert while JWT’s is James Whitehead, who’s spent about 12 years at JWT and was planning his own rebrand of the London agency until it disappeared.

When I met the newly-minted joint CEO of a highly successful agency last year he acknowledged wryly that CEOs were an endangered species in adland. He was right of course, a large number lost their jobs last year as did CEOs in waiting, with titles like MD and managing partner.

This year will surely be the same or, from their point of view, worse.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.