Dentsu International hands out £13.5m to leader – but is obvious candidate CEO Clark on her way?

Somebody was doing pretty well at Dentsu International – presumably CEO Wendy Clark although there are other candidates, Merkle execs on earn-outs for example – with a pay package of £13.5m. £7.1m in “remuneration”, £6.3m from “long-term incentive schemes” and a £100,000 pension contribution according to Campaign. Dentsu isn’t saying.

Now however Gideon Spanier reports in Campaign that “multiple sources” have told the magazine that Clark is stepping down at the company, despite its strong recent performance under her high profile leadership.

Clark, who joined from Omnicom’s DDB following a long marketing career at Coca-Cola – certainly seems to have steered DI onto the right path, piling its creative offer into Dentsu X (binning the awful denstsumcgarrybowen in the process) and focusing on the latest ad goldmine customer experience. Its media agencies, the foundation of the group outside Japan, don’t seem to be doing much more than hanging in there, though, which may be a worry.

Running a big part of a Japan-based empire is hardly a cakewalk for any outsider, as these latest developments may indicate. Jerry Buhlmann, who came from Carat, seemed to do a pretty good job at DI with the buy of performance marketing agency Merkle probably the highlight.

Clark seemed an odd choice for what was then a primarily media agency-based business. Charismatic, she certainly seemed to open client doors at DDB although its brave new model for handling McDonald’s – a variation on the ‘better, faster, cheaper’ model – only lasted a couple of years. But she’s succeeded already in raising the profile of Dentsu outside its media heartland.

If she is, indeed, on her way there’ll be gasps of astonishment elsewhere in adland. We’ll keep you posted.


Ad Age reckons Dentsu International may be no more as the Japanese company transforms to one entity. Alarming, perhaps, for DI staff.

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