Stephenson departs PHD for Vizeum post

Vizeum has poached one of PHD's rising stars, head of insight Chris Stephenson, to head strategic planning on two of its flagship accounts, Coca-Cola and Eurostar.

Stephenson, who was touted by PHD co-founder Jonathan Durden as a possible successor when he left the Omnicom agency in May, joins Vizeum as senior strategist this week, as it prepares to repitch for the £40m Coca-Cola media account.

He will report to managing partner Piers Taylor.

In Durden's final Media Week column, effectively a resignation speech, he named Stephenson as one of a handful of people at PHD he felt would "continue the ideas crusade" beyond his tenure (Media Week, 29 May, page 19).

Stephenson worked closely alongside Durden on a number of projects over his near five-year stint at PHD, for clients including BT, eBay, UKTV and Macmillan Cancer Support.

He started his planning career at outdoor specialist Concord in 2000, before joining PHD Rocket as a communications planner in 2003.

Within two years, he had been promoted to the post of group strategy manager at PHD Media, and went on to write the World Cup 2006 strategy that led to the creation of ad-funded programming content on Channel 4's T4.

Stephenson's appointment continues Vizeum's drive to focus on digital.

In May, the Aegis agency hired Ross Barnes, previously head of search at Starcom, to develop its search engine optimisation and pay-per-click solutions.

It vowed to put search "at the heart of every brief", having already integrated 25 digital specialists from sister agency Diffiniti earlier this year.

The digital-centric approach to planning was a big draw for Stephenson.

"Vizeum was the first agency to integrate digitally and this is a big opportunity for planners," he said. "I'm looking forward to developing my online understanding alongside delivering ground-breaking strategic comms planning."

Vizeum is less than three weeks away from the Coca-Cola repitch. The agency has handled media planning for Coca-Cola Great Britain since 2000, when it picked up the business from Universal McCann, which currently handles media buying.

The two incumbents will pitch against Publicis agency Starcom, as well as against independent Naked Communications.

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