Arvind Hickman
Feb 1, 2023

EssenceMediacom officially launches with new branding and second UK agency

EssenceMediacom will operate in 120 offices globally with a new brand identity, but will continue to operate as two slightly different brands in the UK. Global CEO Nick Lawson shares the details with Campaign.

EssenceMediacom: has installed new branding at its UK headquarters in London
EssenceMediacom: has installed new branding at its UK headquarters in London

EssenceMediacom formally launches today (31 January) as a single agency globally but will continue to operate separately in the UK due to client conflicts.  

In the UK, the agency that was previously Mediacom will adopt the EssenceMedicom brand, and the agency that was previously Essence will be known as EssenceMediacomX.

EssenceMediacom is led by chief executive Kate Rowlinson, while EssenceMediacomX is led by Ryan Storrar –  both were leaders of the two agencies pre merger.

Paul Cooper will lead EssenceMediacom’s North business as chief operating officer. 

The combined UK operation has 1,910 permanent staff, with its headquarters on Theobalds Road, London. New branding (pictured above) has just been installed at the office, with a small lower case "e" and "m".

In the UK, key clients include BT, Sky and Tesco, which Mediacom recently defended in a pitch. In 2021, billings for Mediacom were £1.4bn and for Essence were £531m, placing both agencies among the top four in the UK market.

Globally, EssenceMediacom employs 10,000 people across 120 offices. Its larger clients include Adidas, Bayer, Dell, Google, Mars, NBCUniversal, PlayStation, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Uber. The merged agency handles billings of more than $21bn, according to COMvergence data.

EssenceMediacom will be led by global CEO Nick Lawson, a veteran of Mediacom and its predecessor agencies of more than three decades. His global leadership team is almost complete with one notable gap.

Josh Krichefski, who had been appointed global chief operating officer of EssenceMediacom, has recently taken a new role as EMEA and UK CEO of Group M. His successor is due to be announced in the coming weeks.

Richard Mooney, who is Essence’s global chief data officer, will take on the same role at EssenceMediacom. Mediacom’s chief people officer, Claire Camara, has taken the reins of global HR at EssenceMediacom.

Former Mediacom leaders will take on global C-suite positions in strategy (Matthew Mee); transformation (Frances Ralston-Good); growth (Ian Rotherham); and finance (Charlotte Frijns). Sarah Walker, who is the global chief strategy officer of Essence, will become the global chief marketing officer of EssenceMediacom.

Tim Irwin, the global COO of Essence and previously its EMEA CEO, will become EMEA CEO of EssenceMediacom. Other regional leaders include Rupert McPetrie (APAC) and Marina Gunther (LATAM) – both from Mediacom. Jill Kelly is the chief executive of EssenceMediacom US.

Lawson told Campaign the merger process had run relatively smoothly since a decision to reveal the global leadership team last May – a month after details of the merger were revealed.

“This helped with a lot of practical decisions like the platforms we use, each market’s leadership, organisation structure and even which buildings we sit in,” he said.

“It’s been pretty humbling to see how both sides have really come together and respected each other. I've never underestimated the power of Mediacom but working with Essence has really been an eye opener. I've enjoyed getting to know the talent within Essence, some of the capabilities can be real game changing when added to the power that I think is within Mediacom.”

Combining different personalities

Lawson said both agencies possess different personalities. He described employees from Mediacom, who account for about 80% of the EssenceMediacom workforce, are a bit more “expressive”, while Essence could be described as more “analytical” and “introverted”.

Lawson said this made the merger process easier to manage because there is less crossover in terms of staff skills aside from “very small efficiencies” from identical roles in back-office support functions, such as finance and HR. Where there have been roles that needed to be cut, in many cases staff have been offered other opportunities within WPP.

“This is a simplification and opportunity play, it was never about [creating] efficiencies,” Lawson said. “The opportunity was already shared with some mutual clients at a global level. Essence has previously struggled to have a footprint in certain markets, but Mediacom has a footprint globally. We’re in 45-plus countries and when you combine that with Essence’s brilliant digital performance, you can see what the opportunity creates.”

Christian Juhl, the global chief executive of Group M, said: “The fusion of Essence’s measurement and data-driven DNA with Mediacom’s scale and strategic expertise creates something truly unique in the marketplace. Alongside Mindshare, Wavemaker and MSix & Partners, the launch of EssenceMediacom ensures we have the solutions and thinking to meet the needs of every brand and marketer seeking to grow their business in the new economy. 

“I’m personally excited to see the way EssenceMediacom’s commitment to creating breakthroughs will change expectations for what’s possible in business, culture, and marketing and produce enormous value for our clients.”

Lawson said that, on paper, the fusion of Essence and Mediacom made sense at a time when clients were looking for an agency offering that bridges performance with brand marketing. He believes the global economic downturn could work in the new agency’s favour, but appreciates that his agency will continue to be marked on its ability to retain and attract new business, and gain market share.

“We've got a clearer view of how we can help clients in not only challenging economic conditions, but as we are entering a new communications economy,” he said. “The speed of change in terms of how people are getting to market and how people shop is so great that our clients are looking to answer some of those big questions such as why is my messaging not as effective as it was in the past? As eyeballs are shifting away from traditional media, how do I get advertising or communications in front of them, and how do I justify budgets to my CFO? 

“I think the EssenceMediacom combination gives us a better chance of answering those questions for our clients.” 

A full interview with Lawson will feature on next week’s Campaign podcast.

Campaign UK

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