Stef Calcraft has stepped down as executive chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network UK and Ireland after less than a year in a shock move.
Giulio Malegori, chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network EMEA, who oversaw the UK operation and the recruitment of Calcraft, made the decision to shake up the leadership team.
Malegori said: "We thank Stef for his contribution – he leaves the UK business on a strong footing, with a dynamic new leadership team in place.
"Nick has a strong track record of successfully leading a complex, diverse region for Dentsu Aegis Network and will help to set up the UK business for the future, providing continuity for our clients, our people and the business, by assuming the executive chairman role."
Calcraft could not be immediately reached for comment.
As a co-founder of creative shop Mother, Calcraft was a surprise choice to head Dentsu Aegis Network when his appointment was announced in October 2017 (he joined in January 2018), because he had virtually no media agency experience.
Dentsu Aegis Network has had a mixed record this year.
It lost the UK government’s £150m media buying account and several other major accounts, including GoCompare.co.uk and the AA.
However, it won Co-operative Group and Heineken, as well as picking up Intel and retaining Microsoft globally.
The departure of Calcraft comes as Jerry Buhlmann steps down as global chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network and Tim Andree, the global chairman, takes over his responsibilities as executive chairman.
Calcraft oversaw the appointment of many new leaders, including Anne Sewell from Sky to be chief people officer and Dennis Romijn, previously of Liberty Global, as chief financial officer.
He gave an interview to Campaign earlier this month in which he said he felt "very at home" at Dentsu Aegis Network’s 4,000-strong UK and Ireland business – which includes agencies such as Carat, Vizeum, iProspect and Merkle – but admitted the business was "not yet match-fit".
Calcraft played down his lack of experience in media agencies and pointed instead to his knowledge of brands, particularly at Unilever, where he was a graduate trainee and rose to be a Persil brand manager.
"I’m not a media guy. I’m not an ad guy either. I’m a brand and consumer business guy," he said.
Waters is a media agency veteran who spent a decade at Mindshare in roles at Europe and Asia, before joining Aegis Media in 2010, ahead of its acquisition by Dentsu in 2012.