DDB appoints NZ-based Marty O’Halloran to replace Wendy Clarke as new global CEO

New Zealand leaders are stepping up onto the world stage in 2020 — DDB has named Marty O’Halloran as its new global CEO, replacing Wendy Clarke, who quit in April to join Dentsu Aegis Network in the same role.

O’Halloran, who is currently based in Auckland, moves up from chairman and CEO of DDB Group Australia & New Zealand, where he seems to have built a career as a straight-talking kiwi who isn’t afraid to push the boat out creatively, but doesn’t buy into awards culture.

Perhaps most importantly, he’s worked on the McDonald’s business for 34 years, starting out as an account manager on the brand at DDB Melbourne. He says his greatest moment in advertising was inventing the Value Meal concept, which is now a global staple at McDonald’s restaurants.

This background should help the Omnicom-owned network to shore up one of its most important global clients. O’Halloran’s predecessor Clarke famously led a successful pitch for McDonald’s, and in 2017 set up a bespoke agency, We Are Unlimited, to run the $820m creative business. But that took a hit last September when McDonald’s handed a significant chunk of work to Wieden + Kennedy.

O’Halloran said: “I never chased the big roles overseas because it was always my belief that we could build the best agency in the world here in New Zealand and Australia – you didn’t have to be in New York or London to be the best. I think our team down here has proven that, and now it’s my privilege to take that learning and apply it on the global stage.”

Chuck Brymer, chairman of DDB Worldwide, said: “Marty has a remarkable track record and a relentless focus on adding value. With his guidance and leadership, DDB has become a creative force across Australia and New Zealand. Marty knows that creativity is the most powerful force in business, and has a reputation for delivering long-term success for our clients.”

In North America, DDB has appointed Justin Thomas-Copeland (pictured left) as CEO. He joins from OPMG Health, and Omnicom Precision Marketing Group network, where he was global CEO.

Last year, DDB Sydney won a Gold Lion at Cannes for its Grave of Thrones work for Foxtel, marking the launch of the show’s finale by building a 2000 square metre graveyard in Sydney to reflect the bloodshed across eight seasons. There were two huge family mausoleums, and every gravestone reflected the individual character’s life in detail.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.