WPP has appointed Karen Blackett OBE as president of its business in the UK.
The move will see Blackett step down from her role as UK chief executive of Group M, WPP’s media investment business, to focus full-time on WPP. The business said her successor would be announced in due course.
Blackett took over the UK CEO position from Tom George in April 2020 and has since reshuffled Group M’s leadership team as part of a restructure designed to make it simpler for clients to access its media services. She has also served as UK country manager for WPP alongside her duties as CEO.
Blackett said: “I took on the Group M role in the first week of lockdown in 2020, with a focus on guiding the business through the pandemic and beginning the transformation of Group M in the UK.
“We’ve made huge progress and achieved so much in those two-and-a-half years and I’m delighted to be able to hand the baton to a new leader with the organisation in good health. The UK is such an important market for WPP, with so many fantastic people, clients and partners, and I’m looking forward to being able to devote all of my time and attention to the country leadership role.”
Blackett joined MediaCom in 1999, and in 2008 she became chief operations officer for EMEA and then the agency’s UK CEO in 2011. Five years later, she became chairwoman of MediaCom UK and Ireland.
WPP said her new appointment was part of its ongoing simplification and integration of the company’s operations.
The company, which has 12,000 people in the UK, said an important part of its strategy was to simplify its operations and bring its agencies closer together.
It recently opened Rose Court, its second multi-agency campus building in London, which will house 2,500 of its staff. WPP said its campus strategy was formed to increase collaboration, improve efficiency and reduce office costs.
Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “As we bring our agencies together in our new campuses and deliver increasingly integrated services for our clients, the scale and significance of the UK market requires a role with full-time focus.
“We also learned during lockdown – when it was essential we acted as one company – how important it is to have dedicated country leadership in our major markets around the world. Karen is one of the most admired figures in our industry and the kind of collaborative, people-focused leader who is perfect for this role.”
In the UK, Group M’s agency brands include MediaCom, Mindshare, Essence, Wavemaker and MSix & Partners.
Christian Juhl, global CEO of Group M, said: “When she became CEO of Group M in the UK, Karen had very clear objectives which she has delivered in full. During her time with Group M the business has grown strongly and our agencies in the UK have won and retained substantial business with a range of major clients. I would like to thank her for her fantastic contribution and leadership.”