Matthew Miller
Sep 30, 2021

Essence absorbs AKQA Media in Australia

Pat Crowley named Essence CEO as Lesley Edwards, CEO of AKQA Media, departs.

Pat Crowley
Pat Crowley

GroupM is merging AKQA Media into Essence in Australia, and has named Pat Crowley as the first Essence CEO in the market.

Crowley was previously AKQA Media's lead for the CBA (Commonwealth Bank of Australia) account.

As part of the merger, GroupM is parting ways with Lesley Edwards, up until now the CEO of AKQA Media.

AKQA Media turns out to be a short-lived agency brand. The agency only formed in May this year, when the group merged Ikon and AKQA. As of January 1, the brand will be retired, and the combined agency will operate as Essence. 

The merger adds about 200 people to Essence in Australia and involves no overall reduction in headcount, a spokesperson told Campaign Asia-Pacific. In all, the combined entity will have 250 people in three offices (Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney).

Crowley has led the CBA account since 2006, first with Ikon, where he spent 15 years up until Ikon's merger with AKQA. He will now join the GroupM executive committee, where he will work with newly appointed GroupM ANZ CEO Aimee Buchanan, who is joining from OMD and starts next month.

Edwards spent a decade with Ikon after it aquired a Brisbane agency she founded, rising to CEO and becoming CEO of AKQA Media upon the Ikon-AKQA merger. In a release, GroupM thanked her for establishing "strong foundations for success".

The move is in line with WPP’s global strategy to focus on fewer, stronger brands that deliver expert services to clients, the company said.

"We’re taking the best capability from within AKQA Media and Essence, supercharging it with the power and scale that comes with the global GroupM network," Crowley said in the release. "I’m super excited by what we will be able to create together in this market as part of the globally renowned digital and data focused Essence network.”

T. Gangadhar, Essence's APAC CEO, said the network is delighted to welcome Crowley and the AKQA Media team. "With our expanded capabilities, I’m looking forward to Essence delivering transformational, data-driven growth to even more brands across the country," he said.

AKQA continues to operate as a strategic design and innovation company under Brian Vella, APAC managing partner.

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