MediaCom has appointed Stef Calcraft, a co-founder of Mother and former UK and Ireland executive chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network, to the global role of chief executive, creative transformation.
The WPP agency said Calcraft will oversee MediaCom’s "global creative capabilities", including its content arm MediaCom Beyond Advertising, its sport and entertainment business, as well as its organic social, influencer marketing and creative technology divisions.
"The critical need for creativity in every aspect of how a brand goes to market today, and the intent of supercharging creativity within the agency, was the impetus behind the creation of this new role," MediaCom said.
"Calcraft’s brief is to integrate progressive creative thinking with modern media capabilities, media partners, social platforms and creative technology partners."
Calcraft co-founded Mother in 1996 and it became one of London's top independent creative agencies, winning a reputation for clever work such as ITV Digital’s knitted "Monkey" and Pimm’s "Pimm's o’clock" campaign, before he left in 2015.
He also sat on the board of Naked Communications, a pioneering but now defunct independent shop that fused creative and media strategy, from its launch in 2000 until 2008.
Calcaft made a surprise move into media agency management in a holding company when he joined Dentsu Aegis Network as executive chairman in the UK and Ireland in January 2018, but only stayed a year at the 4,500-strong business.
He joins rival MediaCom on 1 October and will report to chief operations officer Nick Lawson.
Calcraft will be based in London but is expected to spend time in other markets, particularly North America.
He knows MediaCom from his Mother days when the two agencies shared some clients, such as Boots.
Stephen Allan, worldwide chairman and chief executive of MediaCom, said: "This is a transformative appointment that reflects the need for data and technology to be combined with behavioural insight if we are to help our clients’ businesses grow.
"Stef’s appointment builds on the success we have already had with our MBA and sports and entertainment divisions, bringing with him his wealth of experience in creating and building brands.
"Communications are always more powerful when they have a brilliant idea behind them and Stef’s experience will ensure that our teams have the support they need to develop and dynamically deliver even more groundbreaking campaigns."
Calcraft is expected to oversee, rather than have direct responsibility, for about 1,000 staff, who will continue to report to leaders in local markets. MediaCom employs about 8,000 globally and clients include Adidas, Mars, Sky and Uber.
He said: "I am a big admirer of MediaCom’s culture, the strength and depth of the talent working around the world and the exceptional quality of the work it produces.
"The creative opportunities for brands to now fully express themselves and fulfil their potential are unrivalled. MediaCom has the resources, partnerships and ambition to make this a reality."
Calcraft’s appointment reflects the growing importance of data-driven owned and earned media alongside paid media in the marketing mix, but insiders played down the suggestion that it signalled a return to "full service".
MediaCom’s decision to create the role fits with the wider strategy of WPP, the world’s biggest ad agency group, which has repositioned itself as a creative transformation company in an attempt to reignite growth.