Gideon Spanier
Sep 07, 2022

‘I will miss this team greatly’: Wendy Clark’s exit confirmed as Dentsu moves to one global operation

She will stay until December as Japanese parent company plans new management line-up

‘I will miss this team greatly’: Wendy Clark’s exit confirmed as Dentsu moves to one global operation

Dentsu has confirmed it is bringing together its international and Japanese subsidiaries in a single operation and will appoint “one management team” to run the agency group globally.


As first revealed by Campaign on 1 September, Wendy Clark will leave her role as global chief executive of Dentsu International as part of the shake-up, the Japanese parent company confirmed.


The job of global CEO of Dentsu International will be “discontinued”, the company added, confirming a second news story by Campaign on 5 September about Dentsu planning to drop the international job role.


Dentsu Group Inc said it is working on a “new global management structure, including changes to its senior management line-up”. It is thought to be aiming to have news about the appointments by around the time of its Q3 results in November.


Clark will “maintain her current position” until 31 December by which time Dentsu plans to have completed the integration of Dentsu International – which comprises three regions, the Americas, Asia Pacific and EMEA – and Dentsu Japan.


Under the new structure that takes effect on 1 January 2023, Hiroshi Igarashi, the chief executive and president of Dentsu Group Inc, will oversee all four regions. Previously, the three regions outside Japan reported to the CEO of Dentsu International.


It is understood that Dentsu International will cease to operate as a brand as part of the shake-up.


The parent company emphasised that the new leadership team “will comprise a culturally diverse group of leaders” – a sign that the Japanese parent company wants to draw on a mix of international and domestic executives.


Dentsu said it also plans to create what it called “a new client support platform to enhance the client experience at the global level and by promoting integrated growth solutions, which bring together the diverse capabilities within the group."


The client support platform is expected to be a combination of people, resources and technology.


Dentsu will create an Integration Office on 15 September to manage the integration of the two businesses.


The company plans to “globally integrate each of its corporate functions to build a common management platform”. These functions are likely to include areas such as finance, HR and communications.


There was no mention of job losses or other efficiencies in the restructure announcement and a spokesperson declined to comment. However, it is understood that Dentsu, the world’s fourth largest agency group with about 67,000 staff, does not regard the restructure as a cost-cutting exercise.


Dentsu said: “These plans mark a major step forward in the leadership team’s on-going business transformation efforts across the entire group following the launch of the comprehensive [internal] review in 2020.


“Following a series of extensive discussions, the company’s senior leadership team agreed to make structural changes to the group designed to accelerate business transformation, further enhance management capabilities and deepen client relationships.”


A spokesperson had no comment when Campaign asked whether the company’s “extensive discussions” about the shake-up had included offering Clark any different roles within the organisation, following the decision to axe the job of global CEO of Dentsu International.


Clark’s pride in her team 


Clark’s exit has caused widespread shock, both internally and within the wider ad industry, because of her high profile and willingness to engage staff through regular town hall-style meetings.


She only joined from Omnicom’s DDB in September 2020 and was continuing to build her management team, including hiring a global chief strategy officer and a global chief communications officer from agency rivals within the past year.


Igarashi said: “We are deeply grateful to Wendy for the significant contribution she has made in helping Dentsu Group and Dentsu International recover their performance and build a strong foundation for the future.


“The transition to the global ‘One Management Team’ structure is an on-going effort to realise the ‘comprehensive review’ and ‘business transformation’ of the entire group that we have been promoting since 2020.


“I am confident this will accelerate the group’s business growth and further enhance our corporate value. Making this a reality will require the close cooperation of the 67,000 employees across our global team.”


Clark said: “It's hard to be prouder of our 46,000+ Dentsu International team members and leadership. It’s their brilliant thinking, hard work and commitment that has accelerated the opportunity for Dentsu International to now become fully integrated into Dentsu Group and led by One Management Team.


“While I will miss this team greatly, my confidence in them could not be higher and I will be cheering for their many successes to come.”


In a more lengthy post on her personal LinkedIn page, Clark recalled joining Dentsu during the pandemic and some of the highlights of her tenure, including moving the international operation back into revenue growth in 2021 and reporting the highest employee engagement scores in four years. “I genuinely love this company,” she wrote.


Clark also name-checked more than a dozen senior executives from her team and thanked them for their support.


She hinted she may already be considering her next career move as she ended her LinkedIn post by saying “no-one’s ever accused me of being quiet”, adding: “Onward!”


(This article first appeared on Campaign Asia)


Campaign India

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