Karen Blackett is taking over from Tom George as Group M’s UK chief executive. The new role is in addition to her WPP UK country manager position, which she has held since 2018. George has stepped down from the post after 15 years at WPP and has not announced his next step. Blackett will lead strategy and operations for Group M's agency brands, which include Essence, M/SIX, MediaCom, Mindshare and Wavemaker, from April.
Bartle Bogle Hegarty London has chosen Stephen de Wolf as chief creative officer, starting in May. De Wolf joins from Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne and replaces Ian Heartfield, who left at the start of the year to be creative partner at James Murphy and David Golding’s post-Adam & Eve/DDB venture. This is the first time in BBH’s 38-year history that it has hired outside for the top creative role.
Channel 4 has appointed Clare Peters, chief business strategist at Manning Gottlieb OMD, to the newly created role of deputy head of client sales, starting in April. Peters will report to interim director of sales Matt Salmon and manage the currently 12-strong client sales team in London and Manchester.
VaynerMedia London has hired Becky McOwen-Banks as its first executive creative director. McOwen-Banks joins from FCB Inferno, where she was creative director for five years and worked on clients including BMW, Nivea, The Girl Effect and Uefa Women.
Demet Ikiler, WPP country manager and chief executive of Group M Turkey, has become chief executive of the EMEA region. She takes over from Dominic Grainger, who has been transitioning to chief executive of WPP Specialist Communications since September 2019. Ikiler will continue in her post as WPP country manager for Turkey, while a successor for the Turkey chief executive position has yet to be announced.
Wunderman Thompson has recruited Iain Preston, R/GA’s former EMEA executive director, client services, for a newly created role to win and develop international business. Preston becomes chief client success officer for the WPP network’s EMEA region and will report to his former colleague at DigitasLBi (now Digitas), Ewen Sturgeon, who was appointed Wunderman Thompson EMEA chief executive last year.
David Hackworthy, Saatchi & Saatchi’s global chief strategy officer, will take on the new role of chief strategy officer, Publicis Groupe UK, in addition to his existing remit. The move sees Hackworthy join the Publicis Groupe UK communications executive team, working closely with chief executive Annette King and chief creative officer Ben Mooge.
Disney chief executive Bob Iger has stepped down in a move that has shocked Wall Street. He has recently led the company’s streaming service launch and made several high-profile acquisitions. Iger will be succeeded by Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Iger will take on the role of executive chairman to direct Disney’s "creative endeavors" and lead the board until his departure at the end of next year.
Harvey Nichols’s group marketing and creative director, Deborah Bee, will leave the company in July. The retailer said Bee was leaving "to pursue new career opportunities and her writing projects".
Spark Foundry has promoted Lee Lythe to chief investment officer. She was previously managing partner and head of investment at Blue 449.
BidSwitch, which provides programmatic infrastructure to companies and is a subsidiary of IPONWEB, has appointed Valerie Zeltser to the role of vice-president, client services. Zeltser joins from AT&T’s advertising company, Xandr (formerly AppNexus).
Lucky Generals has hired Danny Hunt as creative director. Since 2014 Hunt has worked at The & Partnership, where he was creative director on Argos, overseeing campaigns including last year’s Christmas musical epic "Book of Dreams".
MSQ Partners has launched The Gate San Francisco, led by chairman and chief creative officer Beri Cheetham, previously chief creative officer at The Gate London. He will be supported by Ed Davis, director and head of client services.
Excel Esports has named Milly Preston its first permanent head of marketing. Preston joins from Leaders in Sport, where she held the same role. Former interim head of marketing Alex Harris left the company in December to work as a freelance consultant.
The Corner has promoted Lauren Gray to head of production, while Theo Philips becomes head of operations. The pair have been joint acting heads of production since April 2019. Gray joined the agency in 2014 from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, while Philips joined the following year after a freelance stint at Ichi Worldwide.
The Evening Standard has promoted chief trading officer James White to the newly created post of commercial director.
Digital animation director Harry Butt, founder of Butt Studio, has joined Blinkink’s roster. Butt has recently directed campaigns for Champion, Chloé, Nike and Zalando. He has also created visuals for Boiler Room, MTV, Sony Music, Vice and Warner Music.