Publicis Sapient has poached AKQA’s Ian Wharton to be executive creative director, in a new role forming part of the company’s global experience team.
Wharton will be based in London and report to John Maeda, Publicis Sapient’s chief experience officer, who joined in August 2019. Maeda is building an experience team that will focus on quality in craft and plug into client accounts and new-business pitches across the company globally.
Publicis Sapient said Wharton will play an integral role to help shape and integrate its capabilities to best assist clients in their digital transformation efforts.
He is not a like-for-like replacement for Fura Johannesdottir, the EMEA and Asia executive creative director who was joined Huge at the end of last year. A spokeswoman for Publicis Sapient described Wharton’s role as "essentially new" because he sits within the global experience team.
Wharton will form part of the Publicis Groupe UK creative council, led by Ben Mooge, and bring strong experience capabilities to the UK creative offering, a spokeswoman for Publicis Groupe added.
The move follows last week’s appointment of Karin Giefer and Quinnton Harris for the respective roles of senior vice-president, experience, and global creative director, experience. Last year, Maeda also hired user experience specialist Wendy Johansson (vice-president, experience transformation lead) and digital product design leader Leah Buley (group vice-president, experience research lead).
Wharton is joining the Publicis Groupe company after six years at AKQA, where he was part of the WPP shop’s global creative leadership team. He is a design specialist, having helped craft new products and digital-focused brands on global accounts such as Formula One and Volvo.
He is also one of four founding partners of Zolmo, an award-winning app-design company and joint venture with Jamie Oliver. Zolmo has more than 20 million downloads and has been honoured by D&AD and the Webby Awards, and ranked a top 50 design consultancy by Design Week.
Wharton has also worked as an art director at The Mill and has won a Royal Television Society award for Solar, a short animated film he made in 2007.
Maeda said: "Ian Wharton represents the new ‘digitally native’ generation of senior leaders with a history of bringing a necessary spark to some of the world’s most interesting businesses."