Kate Magee
Jun 17, 2021

John Hadfield, former BBH Singapore CEO to helm Publicis.Poke

Incumbent Nick Farnhill departs as chief executive in July to launch a new venture.

Publicis.Poke: Farnhill will be replaced by Hadfield
Publicis.Poke: Farnhill will be replaced by Hadfield

John Hadfield, who was CEO at BBH, Singapore for a decade before his departure was announced in February 2021 (he left in April), is the new leader for Publicis.Poke. He replaces Nick Farnhill, who is leaving his role as chief executive of the London-based integrated agency at the end of July to launch a new venture. 

Farnhill co-founded Poke 20 years ago in a joint venture with Mother Holdings. It was acquired by Publicis in 2013 for about £10 million, with a three-year earn-out agreement for the founders. Farnhill took on his current role in 2019, when the digital shop was merged with Publicis Worldwide, Arc and August.

“It’s bittersweet to leave the company that’s been such a big part of me for so long, but there was always going to be a right moment to move on and start something fresh again,” Farnhill, who is launching a start-up, said.

“With the team we have in place and the opportunity to bring John on board, that moment is now. A huge thank you to everyone I’ve been lucky enough to work with in Poke and Publicis for making the last 20 years so truly memorable,” he added. 

Farnhill will continue to co-chair The Lovie Awards, which he set up in 2010 to champion excellence on the internet. 

Magnus Djaba, chief executive of the creative practice at Publicis Groupe UK, said: “After 15 years working together, I can safely say that Nick is the nicest and most curious soul I’ve worked with in this business. I’m so grateful he’s passed that on to our organisation. I’m excited for him.

"I’m also excited about John joining, and the future for Publicis.Poke. John has the creative ambition, experience and restlessness to take us to the next level.”

Hadfield has built BBH Singapore into a top five finalist in Campaign’s 2020 Global Creative Agency of the Year. He was instrumental in winning new clients such as Nike, UOB, Ikea, Sentosa, Absolut, SIngtel and Red Bull. He took the role in 2010 after joining the agency as managing director in 2005.

Prior to his move to Asia, he was at BBH London, where he ran the Unilever Personal Care business including Lynx, Axe and Impulse globally. He was involved in the Lynx “Getting dressed” campaign. 

He was previously at HHCL & Partners after starting his career as a graduate at Lowe Howard-Spink.

Hadfield said: "Nick leaves a great legacy. Publicis.Poke has a reputation for creativity and innovation, is full of great talent, and has a great client list. With such strong foundations, I’m very much looking forward to working with the team to build an even greater business.”

Farnhill's departure follows that of Nicolas Roope in 2019, and means that of the six co-founders of Poke, the only one remaining is Tom Hostler, who has been head of brand experience at Publicis.Poke since 2019. 

Correction: This story originally stated that Hadfield left BBH in February. We've corrected the text above to reflect the actual timing.

Campaign UK

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