New WPP CCO Rob Reilly: how we’ll become the world’s most creative company

Can holding company CCOs actually make a difference or a are they, as some say of politicians, destined to fail?

For the former it probably depends on how you assess their impact. Under former global CCO John O’Keefe WPP appeared to focus pretty exclusively on becoming the most-awarded holding company at Cannes, an award it lobbied hard to establish. And it succeeded, much to the ire of Omnicom among others, although most people reckoned it should win every time anyway because it was bigger with an entry budget to match.

Just the other day Wendy Clark at Dentsu International hired Fred Levron from this year’s big Cannes winner FCB to spruce up its (somewhat flagging) creative offer while WPP’s new CCO Rob Reilly (above) is a couple of months into the job. Arguably Levron has an easier job than Reilly whose tankers in need of turnaround are much larger although some of them (AKQA for example) seem to be steering in right direction. AKQA, now in charge of Grey too, is not a conventional agency though.

Reilly did a great job as CCO of Interpublic’s McCann Worldgroup. IPG may have considered making him CCO of the whole shebang when he was being courted by WPP but, wisely probably, chose not to. Susan Credle at FCB and her team (including Levron then) might not have been too pleased.

Here’s Reilly talking to Sonali Krishna of ETNow’s Brand Equity about his plans for WPP: becoming the world’s most creative company (no sweat there then), getting creative and media to work together (ditto) and the numerous other items on his agenda.

Reilly, who admits he’s never met any of his new WPP colleagues in person (even CEO Mark Read) thanks to the pandemic, seems a good egg: modest and approachable but with high standards.

He doesn’t seem obsessed with awards either although he admits they’re still “the scorecard.”

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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.

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