Publicis.Poke hires Jo Arden as first chief strategy officer

She was hired before coronavirus pandemic from MullenLowe, which has promoted Ayesha Walawalkar to replace Arden.

Publicis.Poke: Arden and her replacement at MullenLowe, Walawalkar
Publicis.Poke: Arden and her replacement at MullenLowe, Walawalkar

Publicis.Poke has hired MullenLowe Group UK’s Jo Arden as chief strategy officer.

Arden will lead the Publicis Groupe integrated agency’s strategy department when she joins next month, reporting to chief executive Nick Farnhill.

It is understood that the appointment was made before Publicis brought in a hiring freeze in March in anticipation of a coronavirus-related downturn.

Meanwhile, MullenLowe has promoted global planning director Ayesha Walawalkar to chief strategy officer to replace Arden.

Publicis.Poke had been without a chief strategy officer since last year’s merger of Publicis London and Poke, following the recent departure of Dom Boyd from Publicis London and Bogdana Butnar from Poke. Alexandra Mimoun, who has been leading the strategy department in the interim, will remain head of integrated strategy.

Arden joined MullenLowe in 2017 to replace Charlie Snow, the long-standing DLKW Lowe executive who left his post shortly after parent network Lowe & Partners was merged with sister Interpublic company Mullen.

She is the latest senior figure to leave MullenLowe in recent months, following executive creative director Mark Elwood, who has moved to Leo Burnett London in the same role, and executive partner Phil Rumbol, who was appointed chief executive of snacks company Bahlsen

Walawalkar has a 30-year record of strategy experience in leading roles in the UK and Asia. She has worked at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO as board director, BBDO Asia-Pacific as head of planning, J Walter Thompson Singapore as chief strategy officer, Bartle Bogle Hegarty Singapore as regional planning director and Saatchi & Saatchi as global strategy director. 

She joined MullenLowe in 2015 as global strategy director on Unilever. She is credited with the award-winning "Free the kids" campaign for Persil and recently led the agency’s winning EMEA pitch for Bayer’s consumer-health brands.

Laurence Green, executive partner at MullenLowe Group UK, said: "We set out to find a world-class strategist and leader, and found one right under under our nose. Ayesha has a proven track record in both growing existing client business and bringing in the new, and embodies the kind of progressive thinking we hold dear at MullenLowe."