David Blecken
Mar 11, 2015

Hire of Carol Potter will help Edelman expand brand business: David Brain

ASIA-PACIFIC – Edelman has hired former BBDO China president and CEO Carol Potter as executive vice-chairman for Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa as it continues its efforts to build a stronger brand offering and challenge ad agencies head-on for business.

Potter began her career at Saatchi & Saatchi in the UK
Potter began her career at Saatchi & Saatchi in the UK

Potter recently resigned from BBDO after running the agency in China for nearly 10 years. It was understood that she would relocate to the UK, but the new role with Edelman will see her based in Dubai. She will report to David Brain, president and CEO of Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

The appointment follows the move earlier this month of Potter's predecessor Cornelia Kunze to an equivalent role in Europe.

Brain, who himself had a sojourn in the world of advertising before pursuing his career in PR, said he expected Potter to “elevate our research, creative and content offerings across the region for the benefit of our clients”.

Brain said in a statement issued by Edelman that Potter “represents the gold standard of advertising and planning, and will bring with her the science and rigour of marketing to accelerate our evolution into becoming the region’s first communications marketing agency”.

Recognising the need for greater creativity in PR, Edelman has hired creative directors and digitally-minded leaders in a number of key markets, including Australia, China, India and Singapore. Brain told Campaign that he saw a major opportunity for PR agencies to engage clients on the more lucrative "brand side" of the business, working directly with CMOs, as opposed to focusing squarely on the more traditional "reputation side" and dealing predominantly with chief communications officers.

While he said there was "no danger of us turning into an ad agency", he said Edelman would continue to take ad agencies on in competing for non-traditional business across digital and social platforms. He said the move to recruit people from advertising backgrounds into PR had so far worked well and that creatives working in PR enjoyed the freedom to create short-form content that combines fast turnaround with relatively high production values. He added that he expected to see more movement of talent between PR and advertising on both sides.

Potter moved from London to Shanghai to join BBDO in 2006, building an office of 70 into a network of 500 across Greater China. Recent promotions there following Potter’s departure include that of Tze Kiat Tan to CEO, Wai Foong Leong to chairman and CCO, and Hans Lopez-Vito to chief strategy officer.

In the statement, Potter said, “Edelman has always been an impressive company to me and its evolution, which David is pioneering in the region, really ignited my interest. I see this as a wonderful opportunity to use my experience in new ways to pursue that same agenda”.

Potter was not available for further comment on the move at press time.

Earlier this month, BBDO announced that its regional head of 10 years, Chris Thomas, would move to the US to oversee operations in the Americas.

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