MSQ appoints ex-Kantar chief as executive director

Vetaran: Michels spent 17 years at WPP/Kantar
Vetaran: Michels spent 17 years at WPP/Kantar

Bart Michels joins MSQ board as executive director and becomes executive chairman of Freemavens.

UK-based marketing group MSQ has hired Kantar’s European CEO of consulting and UK country manager, Bart Michels, as executive director.

The 17-year WPP/Kantar veteran will take on a board role at MSQ, supporting the development and delivery of the group’s growth strategy as it continues to expand its capabilities in the UK and internationally. He will also become executive chairman of Freemavens, MSQ’s insights and analytics consultancy.

He will work with Freemavens’ leadership team, led by managing director Lucy Thompson and founder Andrzej Moyseowicz, to help shape its evolution and drive effective connection into the wider MSQ proposition.

Michels will report directly to MSQ's chief executive Peter Reid and joins an expanding leadership team, including the group's other executive directors Kate Howe and Ben Rudman, as well as Reid and chairman Charles Courtier.

Michels has worked client-side for global brands including GlaxoSmithKline, Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola, before a stint at Virgin Media as group brand and communications director.

In 2007 he joined WPP’s Kantar group, becoming global CEO of Added Value, the network’s marketing strategy and insights consulting business, and ultimately European CEO of Kantar’s combined consulting division. He was made UK country manager of Kantar Group in 2016, working with senior clients and with the leadership across all Kantar divisions.

Reid said: “Today’s fast-paced world requires brands to use sharper insight to deliver more impactful customer experiences. We believe we can lead the way in this space, and bringing in someone with Bart’s experience and skillset will enable us to do just that. He knows how to get the very best out of a marketing group and its agencies, and more importantly he knows what it takes to help brands and businesses grow. I’m thrilled to have him on board.”

Michels said: “Marketers and insight leaders are looking for more connected ways to get faster and more creative insights, ideas and in-market impact. The way MSQ is set up and the firepower it brings has the potential to provide clients with another, more effective way. This is a very exciting time to be joining such an agile and ambitious group. It invested significantly in its global tech and data capabilities but also has the talent, creative intelligence and agility to join it all together.

“In Freemavens, MSQ also has a best-in-class insights business at the heart of its capabilities. The agency is a diverse group of brilliant thinkers who understand exactly how to uncover revelations using analytics and data from the world of search and social and beyond, and turn them into competitive advantage for clients. I’m looking forward to working with the team to help them scale further still.”

Founded in 2013, Freemavens has worked with clients including Unilever, L’Oréal, Pernod Ricard and GSK. The business, which MSQ acquired in September last year, recently launched in Shanghai to give clients greater access to insights from a key growth market.

MSQ now consists of 10 agencies and has made a string of acquisitions over the past year, including creative production studio Brave Spark earlier this month and digital marketing agency MBA in March. Now with offices in 13 countries around the world, the group moved into its new London headquarters in Covent Garden in June.

In August, VisitBritain appointed MSQ to handle its global integrated brand activity following a competitive pitch.


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