WPP UK country manager Karen Blackett (below) is reportedly replacing Tom George as CEO of GroupM in the UK, the holding company’s mega-media buying operation. GroupM contains MediaCom (which Blackett used to run), Mindshare, Essence and Wavemaker.
WPP CEO Mark Read pointed to GroupM in his comments on WPP’s disappointing fourth quarter performance which saw organic sales drop 3.3 per cent in what had previously been a relatively robust domestic market. Blackett’s new post is presumably a reflection of that.
GroupM has been by far the biggest breadwinner for WPP in recent years, to the extent that former CEO Sir Martin Sorrell said last year that it was worth £15bn, way ahead of the whole of WPP’s current valuation of less than £10bn.
Big media agencies have found life much harder since the US Association of National Advertisers (ANA) report into undisclosed media rebates in 2016. One senior exec complained privately recently that these days they had to be ‘whiter than white’ in comparison to their independent rivals.
GroupM’s global CEO is Christian Juhl, appointed last year from Essence.