WWAV founder Watson departs after 20 years

John Watson, the chairman and chief executive of the WWAV Rapp Collins group, is leaving the agency that he set up nearly 20 years ago.

John Watson, the chairman and chief executive of the WWAV Rapp

Collins group, is leaving the agency that he set up nearly 20 years


His role will be split in two after his departure on 30 June. Lesley

Mair, the managing director of the London agency, will become its chief

executive and chairman of the WWAV group. The chief operating officer of

the group, Chris Gordon, will become group chief executive.

Watson’s contract enforces two years’ gardening leave, during which time

he plans to concentrate on his writing and consider his next move. ’I’m

not retiring,’ he said. ’I’m taking a two-year sabbatical which gives me

a few years before I retire at 60. This is a fascinating time to stand

back and look at the industry.’

He added: ’I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years, which is a very

long time, and I’d reached a point where there wasn’t much more I could

contribute - the agency needs a new lease of life. I have done a very

good job in arranging the succession and there is no question in

anyone’s mind as to who should take over.’

WWAV was launched in 1981 and merged with Rapp Collins in 1994 when

Omnicom bought the agency to put into its Diversified Agency Services


Since its launch WWAV has grown to dominate the UK direct marketing

industry, sitting comfortably in the number one slot for much of that


Each of the eight satellite agencies launched in key locations in the UK

have risen to become the largest in their areas and the group - which

includes the Computing Group and HLB List Broking - is the largest

marketing services company in Europe.

Michael Birkin, the worldwide president of DAS, said: ’John Watson and

the team he spearheaded have been responsible for the biggest success

story in the direct marketing world.

WWAV excels at everything it does and John’s leadership and vision have

been a significant factor in this.’


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