Merkle global CEO steps aside after more than 32 years

David Williams remains chairman as Craig Dempster takes over as CEO on 1 June.

Merkle: Williams and Dempster
Merkle: Williams and Dempster

Following Dentsu Aegis Network's accelerated buyout last week, performance agency Merkle announced that Craig Dempster will be promoted from president of Merkle Americas to global chief executive, effective from 1 June.

David Williams, chairman and chief executive of Merkle for more than 32 years, will remain chairman of Merkle while retaining his roles as chief executive of the global CRM group for Dentsu Aegis Network and chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network Americas.

Dempster has led the Americas operation since 2017 and has been part of Merkle’s executive leadership team since joining the company in 2006. He has reported directly to Williams for more than 10 years and Merkle credits him with an integral role in driving growth and profitability in the Americas, a region that represents 80% of global annual revenue. 

Merkle praised Williams for overseeing the company's global expansion and growth from $2.5m in revenue to more than $1bn. Williams also oversaw Merkle's sale to Dentsu in 2016 and its integration over the past four years, according to a release. 

As global chief executive, Dempster will oversee more than 9,600 employees in 13 countries, including recent acquisitions Media Storm, Digital Pi and 4Cite. He will also assume responsibility for Dentsu Aegis brands within the CRM line of business, including 360i, Gyro and Cardinal Path.

"[Dempster] has been a crucial leader in the success we’ve seen with Merkle over the past 14 years and I’m confident in his ability to lead our employees and clients through this time of disruption and into the future," Williams said in the release. 

Merkle reported a 21.2% increase in revenue in 2019, with expansion into new markets and the addition of more than 220 new clients and 3,700 employees, including 2,500 data scientists, as part of its acquisition of Ugam.

"I am honored to take on the role of global CEO of Merkle and accepting the reins from a CEO of David Williams’ calibre makes it all the more rewarding," Dempster said. "He is a visionary leader who has dedicated 32 years of his life to this industry and to making Merkle the great company it is today. His are big shoes to fill and I am immensely grateful for his mentorship, his friendship and the trust he has placed in me."

Before leading Merkle Americas, Dempster served as global agency services lead and as chief marketing officer, after first joining Merkle as head of its data and analytics business. 

A version of this story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific