Wunderman is a massive organization with over 170 offices and 7,000 employees around the world, but the agency’s public profile has not been as prominent as it could be given the number of major accounts it handles and the visibility of fellow WPP shops like Ogilvy or even AKQA.
CEO Mark Read, who took over when 14-year vet Daniel Morel stepped down to become non-executive chairman in January, has been working to change that fact throughout 2015. Read, who led WPP Digital for nine years before moving to Wunderman, made several big strategic hires this year following last October’s decision to name Toni Hess as chief creative officer in New York.
In the latest stage of Wunderman’s rebranding, Read hired Judy Jackson as the org’s new global head of talent. He says:
“I am delighted to have Judy joining to lead Wunderman’s talent group. Her experience and enthusiasm is exactly what we need to ensure Wunderman is a great place for our people to work and that our people are proud of working for Wunderman. She’s a tremendous asset to the team and we’re excited to see her ideas unfold.”
Jackson joined the agency in November from IPG Mediabrands, where she held the EVP/CTO title; her hire follows those of global CMO Jamie Gutfreund (formerly with Deep Focus) and North American CEO Seth Solomons, who left R/GA over the summer. Both Jackson and Solomons spent time at Digitas; the former was SVP of human resources and the latter held the global CMO title for over a decade.
Jackson has quite a varied resume as well: she was VP/HR manager at BBDO from 1987 to 1992, and outside the agency world she’s held similar positions at ABC, Time Inc. and the New York division of Planned Parenthood. She also worked at Wunderman 20 years ago.
Why did she return? “Knowing that individuals like Jamie and Seth and Mel [Edwards, EMEA CEO] and others are here was certainly an attraction; you want to work with leaders who believe in their talent.”
“When I was [with Wunderman] from 1995 to 2000, it was a prominent brand with a great legacy that was growing tremendously,” says Jackson. “What it is now is a brand reintroducing itself to the market” after Read’s promotion and related leadership changes.
Moving forward, Jackson will work with other heads of talent around the world to encourage greater collaboration across teams and offices. “I think the opportunity now is for Wunderman to be truly distinct,” she says. “Wunderman missed its opportunity to differentiate itself” in years past but now aims to “leverage the pride that comes with its legacy.”
One reason Wunderman has not received as much attention in recent years is that fact that the organization is closely tied to fellow WPP shop Y&R. While the two are still legally attached to one another, Wunderman aims to forge its own identity with “digitally-influenced but creatively-driven” campaigns and a more assertive presence on the PR front.
As Gutfreund told Adweek in September, “We’re very known for getting work done. But we could be better known for our work.”
Expect quite a bit of new work and staffing announcements to come from the Wunderman organization in 2016.