WPP Hires Rob Reilly as Global Chief Creative Officer

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WPP has hired Rob Reilly to serve as global chief creative officer. He joins from McCann Worldgroup, where he’s been global creative chairman since 2014.

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John O’Keeffe previously held the role. He left WPP last year after 12 years with the holding company.

Reilly is taking on his new position as WPP, which owns agencies including AKQA Group, Ogilvy and VMLY&R, continues its turnaround plan that CEO Mark Read implemented in 2018. Part of this strategy involves investment in creativity; in 2018, the company said it would put £15 million ($20.48 million) per year toward creative leadership until 2021.

“Mark’s ambition is to make WPP the most creative company on the planet. For a creative person, that was impossible to resist,” Reilly said in a statement. “He is leading a complete reinvention of WPP and is committed to putting creativity at the center of everything the company does.”

According to WPP, Reilly will work with the CEOs and chief creative officers of WPP’s agencies to “champion creativity within and beyond the company, fostering a culture that delivers extraordinary work to WPP’s clients.” 

He’ll also be tasked with “attracting and nurturing the best creative talent, driving inclusion and diversity in creative work and teams, and working with technology partners to fuel the creativity needed for their platforms.” He starts his new role in May. 

Bringing a legacy of success to WPP

Under his leadership at McCann Worldgroup, the agency’s New York office created Fearless Girl for State Street Global Advisors, a statue symbolizing female leadership that stood across from Wall Street’s Charging Bull. The campaign won multiple Grand Prix at Cannes Lions and became a viral sensation.

He also oversaw work for clients including Ikea, Mastercard, Microsoft and Verizon. In 2019, Microsoft’s “Changing the Game” Super Bowl spot won several industry awards. Prior to joining McCann Worldgroup, Reilly served as worldwide chief creative officer of CPB.

“After seven very successful years at McCann Worldgroup, Rob has decided to move on to the next chapter of his career, unfortunately with a competitor,” Bill Kolb, chairman and CEO of McCann Worldgroup, said in a statement. “Rob has helped build an incredible bench of creative leadership across each one of our agency brands and contributed so much to our creative success. I thank him for his countless contributions and wish him all the best in his new role.”  

Read called Reilly “one of the world’s most celebrated creative leaders” in a statement, adding that he is “delighted that Rob is joining us as we look to make WPP synonymous with the world’s most creative, most effective and most forward-looking work—and at a time when this has never been more important to our clients.” 

Like most of advertising’s holding companies, WPP’s revenue has taken a hit in the past year due to the financial impact of the pandemic on clients.

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