Carat UK hires new chief executive

Clare Chapman fills a leadership void left by Jo Sutherland nearly a year ago.

New Carat UK boss Clare Chapman takes the agency's reins in 2022
New Carat UK boss Clare Chapman takes the agency's reins in 2022

Carat has appointed Clare Chapman as its UK chief executive. 

Chapman joins Dentsu's largest UK media agency from Essence, where she was an executive vice president and head of media across EMEA.

She is the third senior executive to leave Essence in the past 18 months after former UK managing director Ali Reed joined PHD UK as CEO and EMEA chief product officer Mark Syal joined Brainlabs.

She will take the helm of the UK’s fourth largest media agency with annual billings of £458m and about 480 staff. 

Carat has operated without a chief executive since Jo Sutherland stepped down in December 2020.

Chapman will joins Carat in early 2022 and at an interesting time. In 2020, the agency lost Diageo, but picked up Kraft Heinz and a spate of new business that helped it keep billings relatively stable in spite of ad budgets being frozen during the pandemic.

This year, Carat has won the consolidated media planning and buying account of The Post Office, Arla and retained the domestic appliances account Philips after it was spun off.

Chapman joins at a time when parent group Dentsu is on the hunt for a new UK and Ireland CEO after Euan Jarvie departed.

She brings more than two decades of experience in media, including leadership roles in planning, activation and client services. 

At GroupM’s Essence, she oversaw a 350-strong media planning and activation team that worked with clients including BT, L’Oréal, Zoopla and Sainsbury’s. Previously, she served as managing partner and head of planning at Maxus and spent more than seven years in account leadership roles for Havas UK and MPG (now Havas Media).

In her new role, Chapman will be responsible for leading and growing the media agency across its four UK offices. Her role includes setting the agency’s vision and strategy to deliver on Carat’s "Designing for people" proposition. 

She will report to Dentsu UK and Ireland CEO of media, Hamish Nicklin, who said: “I wanted someone who understood planning and strategy, and the media landscape, but was also comfortable talking about trends in data and tech.

"Most importantly, someone who shared my values on leadership and working as part of a matrix organisation with openness and collaboration. Clare is all of that and an utterly decent human being."

“Her values-based leadership style and client-centric approach will ensure that our teams are empowered and our clients continue to receive industry-leading services.”

Chapman said she was "excited" to join "the world’s first media agency... to lead the agency through its next period of growth.”

Essence EMEA CEO Tim Irwin said: "Clare has been a valued and hard-working member of our leadership team at Essence over the last few years. Her energy, expertise and unwavering support will be missed across all of our teams.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank her for all of her brilliant contributions to the business and wish her all the best in the new role."