PHD raids Essence for new CEO

Ex-OMD exec Ali Reed returns to Omnicom becoming the third female chief executive to be appointed by the group within weeks.

Ali Reed: named among Campaign's 'Top 10 media agency suits' in 2020
Ali Reed: named among Campaign's 'Top 10 media agency suits' in 2020

PHD has hired Essence’s managing director Ali Reed as the Omnicom media agency’s new UK chief executive.

She succeeds Verica Djurdjevic, who joined Channel 4 as chief revenue officer in November.

Reed knows Omnicom well, having spent five years at PHD’s sister shop, OMD UK, until she left to join WPP’s Essence in 2018. She became managing director in a newly created role last January, having joined Essence as head of client services EMEA.

During her time at Essence, Reed is credited with being instrumental in client wins for ITV, L’Oréal, Zoopla and Peloton. 

She appeared in Campaign’s Top 10 Media Agency suits in December. "As a keen poker player and ex-member of the Great Britain ten-pin bowling team, Reed knows what it takes to compete and calculate risks," Campaign wrote last month.

Reed will report to Omnicom Media Group UK chief executive Dan Clays. Her start date is yet to be confirmed.

Clays said: “In Ali, we have appointed an exceptional leader who has done incredibly well in her time at Essence.

“She stood out in the process as not only having the fundamental client and strategic strengths that will be critical at PHD but also for her depth of digital and data experience and the energy she brings to transformation. It will be a formidable team running PHD.”

Reed’s arrival at PHD marks the third new CEO announcement by Omnicom Media Group UK in the past month, following the promotions of Natalie Bell (Manning Gottlieb OMD) and Laura Fenton (OMD UK) in December. Hearts & Science, the fourth Omnicom media agency, is run by Garrett O’Reilly as managing director.

Reed said: “PHD has a unique heritage, outstanding talent and an amazing set of clients and I’m looking forward to helping the agency redesign the future of work and accelerate its digital transformation.”

Essence has no current plans to replace Reed as UK managing director.

Tim Irwin, chief executive EMEA at Essence, said: "We thank Ali for all she has done at Essence and wish her the very best at PHD."

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