Matthew Miller
Sep 24, 2021

Initiative names APAC president

James Smyllie joins from Essence to fill the role that APAC CEO Leigh Terry has been covering since the departure of Will Anstee in April 2020.

Initiative names APAC president

IPG Mediabrands agency Initiative has hired James Smyllie as APAC president.

He joins from Essence, where he was senior vice president and head of media for the region and spent the last three years developing the agency’s consultancy and operating models.

He takes up the role, based in Singapore, on November 29, reporting to Amy Armstrong, global CEO of Initiative, and Terry. The president role has been vacant since the agency parted ways with its president of two years, Will Anstee, in April 2020 in what Terry freely admits was part of a cost-cutting effort. Terry covered the role in the interim, working with Matt Scotten, APAC chief strategy officer.

Prior to Essence, Smyllie’s career history includes time at Carat and Starcom. While at Carat, he was international client president leading Microsoft and Standard Chartered.

As the industry emerges from a "period of flux" that has presented both challenges and opportunities, Smyllie's appointment is a positive sign for the agency, Terry said in a release, noting Smyllie's experience in digital, creative strategy and client insight.

“I believe that Initiative, with its Cultural Velocity approach to media, is well positioned to help brands from all categories achieve success in what will be a highly competitive, but also very interesting few years ahead,” Smyllie said. 

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