Hot in 2019: Top 10 media suits

A look back on the best of our industry in 2019.

Top row: Irwin, Morris, Biggam, Forde, Adams and Cummins; bottom row: Djurdjevic, Stephens, Pierre and Pearson
Top row: Irwin, Morris, Biggam, Forde, Adams and Cummins; bottom row: Djurdjevic, Stephens, Pierre and Pearson

10 Natalie Cummins

Chief executive, Zenith

Three gongs for Zenith at the Campaign Media Awards showed Cummins’ team has some mojo inside the Publicis Media machine. Taking the Three account off Mindshare was an important win that showed Cummins can add as well as defend big business.

9 Matt Adams

Chief executive, Havas Media Group

Adams is a tough operator who has faced a lot of pitching in an ultra-competitive market and picked up business, including Starbucks and Dreams, from bigger rivals. He also showed a commitment to strengthening Havas Media’s regional offering with investment in its Manchester office.

8 Rachel Forde

Chief executive, UM

This cheerful, former Publicis Media executive got her timing right when she joined UM, which has landed several big global clients, including American Express and Just Eat. Forde has been boosting the previously low profile of the Interpublic agency in the UK and striking deals, including a sizeable, two-year partnership for Just Eat on Love Island.

7 Rob Pierre

Chief executive, Jellyfish

The self-deprecating Jellyfish founder has quietly built one of the UK’s biggest digital agencies, since launching the Google performance specialist in 2005. Pierre sold a majority stake to French group Fimalac, which has put its data arm, Tradelab, into his existing business – proof he intends to grow Jellyfish into a whopper.

6 Tim Irwin 

Chief executive, EMEA, Essence 

The experienced, ex-Maxus executive has brought wisdom to the role of running Essence, arguably now the golden child within parent company Group M. Setting up a new initiative, Beauty Tech Labs, to win L’Oréal’s UK & Ireland account was a coup and cemented the agency’s role at the top table, with a client list that also includes Google and BT. The UK remains the key part of Irwin’s EMEA remit.

5 Verica Djurdjevic

Chief executive, PHD UK 

Djurdjevic is a smart operator who has seen the media market outside London as growth opportunity – witness PHD Manchester winning the chunky Stars Group gambling business. She has an understated manner but knows how to add theatre to a pitch and her team is doing a decent job of combining strategic brains with trading brawn.

4 Andrew Stephens 

Founding partner, Goodstuff Communications 

Stephens has made growth a priority for the agency that he and business partner Ben Hayes founded 15 years ago. They have embraced a new breed of start-up "growth" clients and launched Startstuff to support two agencies, Love Sugar Science and Sixteenbynine, in exchange for minority stakes. Stephens was jointly shortlisted with Hayes for Media Leader of the Year at the Media Week Awards.

3 Jenny Biggam

Co-founder, the7stars 

The talisman at the helm of Britain’s biggest independent agency signalled her ambition when the media group made the pitch shortlist for the huge L’Oréal account. She learned from the experience and launched a tech hub to boost the7stars’ digital credentials. The agency was shortlisted for the Media Week Awards again, and Biggam issued a clarion call on Brexit by urging the ad industry to "say no to no deal".

2 Richard Morris

Chief executive, Initiative UK

It is hard to overstate how much of a turnaround Morris has overseen at the IPG agency, which was on its knees before the former Vizeum boss arrived in 2017. Global clients, including the retention of Amazon, have helped but, last autumn, Initiative UK landed LV=, its biggest local win in years. Morris has championed cultural relevance with a State of UK Culture report, and headcount has doubled since he joined.

1 Tim Pearson

Chief executive, OMD Group 

One of the nice guys of media agency land, Pearson believes in long-term relationships, and capped two decades at Manning Gottlieb OMD by winning Agency of the Year at the Media Week Awards. Work for the government on "Get ready for Brexit" and for the John Lewis Partnership underlines the trust some of the UK’s most demanding clients have in Pearson’s team. Responsibility for sister agency OMD UK was added to his remit in July but he insists no merger is planned.

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