Iris promotes Steve Bell to global CEO

Ian Millner takes on dual role at Iris and Cheil Worldwide.

Steve Bell: co-founded Iris in 1999
Steve Bell: co-founded Iris in 1999

Iris has appointed Steve Bell as global chief executive, replacing fellow co-founder Ian Millner, who is moving to a dual role across Iris and parent company Cheil Worldwide.

Bell has been European chief executive since 2013 and held the positions of North American CEO and deputy global CEO. In his new role, Bell will be responsible for driving the performance of the network’s 14 offices

Millner, who has led the agency since it was founded in 1999, becomes chairman of Iris, while also taking on the role of CEO of client strategy growth at Cheil Worldwide.

Iris’ third co-founder Claire Humphris, meanwhile, was recently promoted from global chief marketing officer to CEO of Iris London.

Left to right: Bell, Humphris, Millner

Iris has also made two appointments to its executive board: Harriet Shurville, chief people officer, and Jill Smith, chief marketing officer for North America.

“Being at Iris is more than just a job, it’s who we are,” Millner said. “Change is always exciting and having led our business for more than 20 years, I think that now is a good time to hand the honour to Steve and Claire. I’ve been enjoying working closely with clients over the last few months and I’m really excited to let the incredible potential of the Cheil network and sister agencies loose.”

Bell added: “Having worked closely with all of our offices in my regional roles, I know that there’s no better time to be taking the Iris network forward into this post-pandemic world. The bounceback is definitely on, and with the support of the global leadership team I can’t wait to realise our potential on a global scale.”

Iris London last week won a gold Lion in creative strategy at Cannes Lions for its Starbucks campaign “What’s your name?”.