WPP has named Kyoko Matsushita into a newly carved role of CEO in Japan, a shift from her current role as global CEO of Essence. As part of this new role for which she will move from San Francisco back to Tokyo, she will be responsible for WPP’s entire business in Japan and will aim to strengthen the network’s collective capabilities. The news comes amid Essence’s merger with MediaCom, a major reshuffle for WPP’s GroupM.
In Japan, a US$51 billion advertising market, Matsushita will oversee a team of nearly 1,000 under more than 15 network brands including AKQA, Essence, BCW, GroupM, Ogilvy, VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson. Key clients in this market are Amazon, Dell Technologies, Gilead Sciences, Google, IBM, Mars, Mitsubishi, Mondelez, Nestlé, Pfizer, P&G, Sony, Toyota, Uber and others.
In her current role for Essence, Matsushita manages 23 offices in 12 countries. Prior to her promotion to global CEO, she was Essence’s first global chief client officer where she led the client services practice, client satisfaction, and organic and new business growth. She joined the firm in 2014 as the first CEO of the APAC region during which she oversaw the management of 11 offices in the region and established Essence's presence in key cities including Beijing, Bengaluru, Delhi, Jakarta, Melbourne, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo. Prior to joining WPP, she led marketing and communications at Sony Europe and all marketing for online games at Electronic Arts in EMEA and APAC.
Matsushita told Campaign Asia-Pacific that she is thrilled to be returning to Japan as it’s an opportunity of a lifetime for her, especially given that Japan is “close to her heart”.
“It’s clear that there’s so much potential for WPP in this region and with Japan being one of the most technologically advanced markets with some amazing creative talent, this feels like the right move at the right time—for me and for WPP,” she said. “The chance to lead the WPP business in a market with tremendous opportunity for us is a real honour.”
She added that that the Japan network has increased its headcount considerably in the past 12 months. With this, she plans to introduce “value-adding collaboration” to fuel growth.
“I think my previous leadership in this region [where I built out] a media and creative business in some unique markets positions me well in terms of both the business and our people,” Matsushita said. “I’m also strongly motivated by the power of technology advances, from gaming—where I have spent some time—through to the blossoming metaverse environment. Finally, as a former global chief client officer I understand the importance of building committed, transparent and authentic client relationships."
Meanwhile, Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said that Matsushita’s experience and her appreciation for building a strong culture make her a “perfect leader” for WPP’s business in Japan.
“She is highly respected across our industry, and her return to the Asia-Pacific region follows a period of great success as CEO of Essence. I have no doubt she will unlock new opportunities for our people and clients in the world’s third-largest economy,” said Read.
This is WPP Japan’s first group-level CEO appointment and the move aims to “reflect a new commitment to identify growth opportunities, drive greater collaboration and cooperation across WPP agencies, and invest in people in a market with a rich history and strong cultural identity.”