WPP CEO Mark Read has made a big statement about the holdng company’s commitment to classical advertising values with the surprise appointment of Rob Reilly, creative chairman of Interpublic’s McCann Worldgroup, as WPP’s new global CCO.
Reilly (above) replaces John O’Keefe who left in March last year. At the time it was thought that O’Keefe, hired in the Sir Martin Sorrell era when WPP was determined to improve its awards success rate, would not be replaced.
Reilly has helped to win McCann more than its fair share of awards in recent years – State Street Global Advisors’ ‘Fearless Girl’ statue won just about every award going – as McCann has remained on top of its game as a go-to agency for many global brands.
Reilly says: “Mark’s ambition is to make WPP the most creative company on the planet. For a creative person, that was impossible to resist. He is leading a complete reinvention of WPP and is committed to putting creativity at the center of everything the company does.”
Read says: “Rob is one of the world’s most celebrated creative leaders. He has been a transformative creative force wherever he has applied his considerable talent, and I know he will have the same impact at WPP. I am delighted that Rob is joining us as we look to make WPP synonymous with the world’s most creative, most effective and most forward-looking work – and at a time when this has never been more important to our clients.”
Read has merged three of his big traditional creative agencies – Y&R, JWT and Grey – into digital networks VML, Wunderman and AKQA respectively, leading many to think that the company was headed to a furture as a tech-based consultancy, media and ecommerce operation with some creative bits at the edges.
The appointment of Reilly – a Crispin Porter alumnus from its great days – is clearly designed to send out a different message.