Does Mark Elwood have what it takes to replace Chaka Sobhani?

Leo Burnett has moved quickly to replace the departing CCO Chaka Sobhani. Mark Elwood has been promoted from ECD to CCO for the UK, and he has some very big shoes to fill. He takes up the role immediately, even though Sobhani will apparently stay around for six months until she joins DDB as international CCO.

Sobhani has been global as well as UK CCO of Leo Burnett since May 2021, and she may have spent most of her time travelling rather than knee deep in UK creative output. It’s possible that Elwood has been steering the agency’s creative ascent: he’s on the credits for McDonald’s “Raise your arches,” the Morrisons Christmas ad with the singing oven gloves, and Tui’s holidaying elves.

But Sobhani will be hard to replace when it comes to raising the agency’s profile and new business presence. Publicis Groupe has now lost two brilliant women with star power this year – UK group CEO Annette King left for Accenture Song in April.

Leo Burnett are certainly claiming that Elwood is behind the creative reboot at Leo Burnett, saying that he has run the UK creative department for the last three and a half years. He joined in 2020 from MullenLowe where, as a founder of 101, he took the creative reins after the independent agency was acquired by IPG. He was head of art and creative director at Fallon during the Cadbury “Gorilla” glory years.

Elwood said: “It’s a privilege to be asked to lead the creative department at Leo Burnett. There is no better creative agency in the UK in my opinion and no better team across the board.”

Carly Avener, CEO at Leo Burnett UK, said: “Mark is an incredible talent and a progressive leader. He’s been central to Leo’s success over the past three years as we’ve grown the size, shape and flavour of the department. You can see that coming through in the quality of the work across all our clients and the strength of the talent he has attracted and nurtured.”

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