MediaCom's Toby Jenner named global CEO of Wavemaker

Jenner: previously worked at MEC
Jenner: previously worked at MEC

Appointment ends long period of limbo for WPP's newest media agency.

WPP has named MediaCom’s Toby Jenner as global chief executive of sister agency Wavemaker.

Jenner, global chief operations officer at MediaCom, has a reputation for winning new business, helping to win big, international accounts including Adidas and Mars in the past 12 months.

He also brings international experience, having worked in Asia, the US and Europe.

Jenner, who is 49 and British, will start at Wavemaker in September.

His move ends a long period of limbo for Wavemaker, which has been without a global chief executive since December 2018.

Wavemaker only launched at the start of 2018 when Group M, the media buying division of WPP, merged MEC with most of Maxus – two agencies that had suffered significant account losses and lacked many global clients.

Jenner has spent 11 years at MediaCom, where his roles included Asia-Pacific chief operating officer and and chief executive of Australasia.

He previously worked at MEC, where he was UK managing director, but acknowledged he was moving to Wavemaker as "an outsider in many respects" given all the changes that have occurred since then.

However, Jenner said he would bring an understanding of the "sensitivities" of how Group M operates and the "cultural" differences because of his time working in three continents.

Jenner added he "loved" working for Steve Allan, global chief executive of MediaCom, but Wavemaker is an "exciting business" and he wants to run a global media agency network.

Wavemaker is a top five global media agency with 8,600 staff and has $13bn in billings, according to COMvergence.

Clients include Colgate, Huawei, L’Oréal, Netflix, Tiffany & Co and Vodafone.

'There are areas where we can be stronger'

"Like any business, I’m sure there are areas where we can be stronger," Jenner said. "We’ll address those as a team and take the agency on to even greater success moving forward."

There is opportunity "everywhere", he said, even as some clients bring some marketing services in-house.

"We have to be confident enough in our own abilities. We need to have a very good core offering of what we do in terms of the breadth and depth of our capabilities," Jenner said.

Acknowledging that a growing number of clients are also asking their media agency to work more closely with other agency disciplines, he went on: "We have to partner well, we have to behave well, we have to collaborate well. 

"Mark [Read, the new WPP chief executive] has introduced an air of inclusivity across the business, which is great."

Jenner defended Group M’s decision in summer 2017 to merge MEC and most of Maxus to form Wavemaker, saying it made sense because the former was strong in Europe and the latter in Asia.

There was a "complementary" fit, which "geographically centred the business and made it a much stronger global network", he said. "When I look at Wavemaker, what I see is a network that has got incredibly strong local markets, which I often think is the hardest part [of building a global business]."

Jenner noted that Wavemaker is a top two agency in the UK, France and India, is in the top three in Australia, top five in Canada and top six in China.

Tim Castree was the previous global boss of Wavemaker, after starting in the same role at MEC in January 2017, and moved to run Group M North America at the end of 2018.

Jenner said part of the reason it has taken time for the appointment of a new chief executive was that WPP had to do "due diligence" and keep clients happy about his move. Group M is also said to have considered external candidates.

Wavemaker launched with a focus on media, content and technology. Asked about its future positioning, Jenner said: "There aren’t many preconceived ideas about what it is and what it isn’t, so we can shape it as a team in the direction that we want to be successful."

Kelly Clark, global chief executive of Group M, said: "Toby is passionate about helping our clients win and is a fierce competitor for them, as well as for our business.

"He inspires our people to consistently exceed expectations and supports them in their own career development. He will be a strong leader with the very talented team at Wavemaker."

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