Top 10 CEOs

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  • James Murphy

    James Murphy

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1. James Murphy

Murphy retains the number-one spot after a spectacular 2012 in which he sold his agency to Omnicom and was handed a larger train set to play with in the shape of the merged Adam & Eve/DDB. Murphy is a consummate and tireless networker who is peerless in managing both internal and external politics. The early signs are encouraging as the new-found drive at the agency resulted in strong campaigns for key clients and a business that, despite the inevitable merger pains, looks well set for a strong 2013.

2. Ben Fennell

Under Fennell’s stewardship, Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s UK operation continues to thrive, with its work recognised as among the best in the market (and only second in the world to Wieden & Kennedy Portland in the Cannes reckoning). Its new-business and client-retention record also remains strong under Fennell, who, while possessing an imposing character and physique, has built a strong team around him based on collaboration and mutual respect. Fennell’s only problem now is to keep BBH near the top of the tree as the definition of the modern agency evolves.

3. Annette King

King was justly rewarded in 2012 with the top European job at OgilvyOne after turning its London business into one of the best agencies, in any category, in the market. She remains a relatively hands-on London chairman while applying her enthusiasm and hard work to other countries in the region. King has the values essential in a leader: strong senior client relations combined with the ability to build a market-leading team. Expect OgilvyOne’s network to move from strength to strength in Europe with her at the helm.

4. Paul Lawson

It was a fine year for Lawson’s agency, Leo Burnett, which triumphed on the new-business front with its huge Co-operative win while innovating in terms of a service offering that now promises to be one of the most integrated around. Lawson might complain that his waist size has become an issue again, but this is certainly not down to a lack of drive and energy. The continued excellence of its work for key client McDonald’s could well be a factor, though.

5. Ian Pearman

The departure of the respected Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO executive chairman, Farah Ramzan Golant, left Pearman, who was promoted to the chief executive role in 2011, in clear, sole charge of the London agency. Its fortunes have not noticeably diminished since as Pearman continues to provide firm and decisive leadership of the UK’s number-one shop by billings.

6. Tracy De Groose

Carat has come on leaps and bounds with De Groose at the helm and, in 2012, she was rewarded with promotion to the newly created chief executive role. Carat might have lost a couple of large accounts (Johnson & Johnson and Beiersdorf) towards the end of the year but remains a formidable new-business opponent, and its work for the likes of Gocompare.com and Diageo is among the best in the market.

7. Lisa Thomas

M&C Saatchi’s UK group chief executive combines a strong work ethic with a firm belief in an integrated model that should help future-proof the business. Thomas was instrumental in its ad agency’s decision to hire Profero’s Elspeth Lynn as the executive creative director and has ensured that Lida, the direct marketing shop that she ran previously, is working more closely with other group agencies.

8. Russ Lidstone

Lidstone’s planning background is a real asset to Havas Worldwide’s London operation – previously known as Euro RSCG. He combines his leadership of the agency with that of its PR operation, a relatively unusual arrangement despite all the talk of closer working between the two disciplines. He has helped build an agency that can be proud of both its new-business performance and work for clients including Chivas, Durex and VO5.

9. Chris Hirst

We still can’t quite come to terms with the fact that Grey isn’t the forgettable agency it once was. It’s now actually winning business and even some creative awards. Hirst isn’t the sort of man to be shouting this from the rooftops, favouring a rather more low-key approach, but snaring its new strategy chief, Lucy Jameson, and getting the agency back on the new-business trail have been real achievements this year.

10. Magnus Djaba

The charismatic Saatchi & Saatchi leader presided over a strong year for the Charlotte Street- based shop. Creative standards were noticeably higher with work for clients including Mattessons and Toyota impressing. New business also found its way into the agency in the shape of the combined EE account and Djaba boosted Saatchis’ digital credentials with a deal to acquire the specialist shop Outside Line.