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Ryan McManus takes lead creative role at WPP’s VML London

WPP’s VML, the world’s biggest creative agency according to the holding company (certainly the most numerous with around 30,000 people) has filled a gaping gap with the appointment of Ryan McManus from New York as UK CCO. He has also worked in South Africa and Germany.

McManus (above) says: “From the moment I met the UK team I was blown away with the level of creative talent and depth of capabilities. To me, the UK is a candy store of incredible future-facing skills that can truly serve the bespoke needs of our clients. I can’t wait to be a part of the alchemy and guide the creative department to make outstanding work that drives meaningful change.”

McManus replaces the then VMLY&R CCO Laurent Simon and Wunderman Thompson’s Steve Aldridge who both shipped out before the merger into one VML in 2023.

VML, unlike its component parts, was never a big player in London before the merger and, in some parts of the world, finds itself a somewhat brand-less behemoth although its reputation is stronger in the US. Interestingly McManus’ VML New York won this week’s D&AD Agency of the Year accolade.

Ogilvy, which remains a powerful and established creative agency brand, has been the shining light in WPP’s creative line-up recently. Not that such agencies are immune to holding company tribulations. Interpublic’s FCB won the One Show’s Network of the Year a week ago only to announce it was making 9% of staff in Chicago redundant as it lost Pfizer to Publicis (Pfizer was also blamed by WPP for some of its recent travails.) Ogilvy won Network of the Year at D&AD.

McManus at VML has been charged with working on global accounts. VML globally badly needs more of these (although it is a contributor, alongside Ogilvy and other WPP agencies) to Coca-Cola’s bespoke OpenX agency which has so far performed well. But with 30,000 mouths to feed across the world, London remains a vital flagship as holding company agencies face a renewed challenge from sparky independents on top of falling budgets. So not the easiest task for a new CCO from across the water.

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