Caroline Foster Kenny named Wunderman Thompson global chief client officer

Senior IPG media executive is moving to creative side.

Foster Kenny: previously worked on media side at WPP
Foster Kenny: previously worked on media side at WPP

Wunderman Thompson has poached Caroline Foster Kenny from IPG Mediabrands to be global chief client officer of the WPP agency.

Foster Kenny currently has dual roles at the Interpublic media division as global president of client solutions and UK chairman and chief executive.

She is returning to WPP, where she spent 20 years in media agencies, rising to be global chief client officer at MEC, now known as Wavemaker, which she left in 2016.

Foster Kenny was EMEA chief executive of IPG Mediabrands from 2017 until the start of 2020 and helped to turn around its fortunes, particularly in the UK, where she refreshed the leadership of its flagship agencies Initiative and UM.

She moved to a global client solutions role while retaining a UK leadership remit in January 2020.

At Wunderman Thompson, Foster Kenny will be part of the network's global leadership team and report to global chief executive Mel Edwards.

Foster Kenny "will be responsible for global client relationship development and will work cross-functionally across all the Wunderman Thompson capabilities to drive business and brand transformation for the top 30 global clients", the agency said.

Wunderman Thompson's clients include BT, HSBC, Shell and Unilever.

Foster Kenny has experience of Asia and of working on integrated business, including pitching for Centrica’s global account last year for Interpublic when it competed against WPP – a review that was won by a team that included Wunderman Thompson.

Edwards said: "Caroline will be a fantastic asset to the Wunderman Thompson global leadership team. Her commitment and passion for agency transformation and client growth is unparalleled and I’m confident that she will help us inspire growth both for our clients, and also for our people."

Foster Kenny, who will be based in London, said: "This is truly an opportunity I could not pass on – it’s a defining moment for me. Wunderman Thompson has all of the right ingredients to partner with their clients to drive business and brand growth.

"I’ve long admired from afar the talents, creativity and phenomenal capabilities the agency boasts, and now to be part of that – well, I can’t stop smiling!"

Mark Read, chief executive of WPP and former chief executive of Wunderman before its merger with J Walter Thompson, said last year that around one-third of client pitches involve integrated accounts that combine creative, media and other services such as CRM and data.

Part of the rationale for the merger of Wunderman Thompson, which took place at the start of 2019, was to capitalise on opportunities for integration, but Read has admitted that the agency's revenues have yet to move back into growth.

Foster Kenny was shortlisted for Media Leader of the Year at Campaign’s Media Week Awards 2019 and IPG Mediabrands praised her "invaluable contribution", adding that she leaves the operation "in tremendous shape".

Daryl Lee, global chief executive of IPG Mediabrands, said: "Caroline is taking on a big challenge in moving to the creative side, but if anyone can drive transformation there, it's her."

Lee, who has experience of leading creative agencies himself, added: "We wish her well and we will miss her charm, warmth and relentless client focus. We will be making an announcement about Caroline's successor imminently."

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