Philippa Brown, the UK chief executive of Omnicom Media Group since 2007, has been named chief executive of PHD Worldwide.
Brown takes over from Mike Cooper, whose appointment as CEO of OMG APAC and EMEA was announced late yesterday. Brown knows PHD well, as she has overseen its UK agency for 12 years in her role as head of Omnicom’s media-buying division.
Her new job will see her take charge of a global network with close to 6,000 staff and 100 offices from the Americas to Asia. Clients include HSBC, Unilever and Volkswagen Group.
Brown will continue to be based in London, where PHD was founded in 1990.
She has built a reputation for being client-facing and commercial during her time in charge of the UK operation, which includes PHD’s sister agencies OMD, Manning Gottlieb OMD and Hearts & Science.
Omnicom Media Group’s UK staff has more than doubled in size from 770 to 1,900 since 2007.
Daryl Simm, global chief executive of Omnicom Media Group, said: "Philippa is a proven leader and a natural fit to lead PHD globally.
"As CEO of OMG UK, she has worked closely with Mike Cooper in the original positioning of PHD as a global network, and has been heavily involved in PHD’s international client successes.
"She has singular insight into PHD’s culture, the expectations that clients have of the agency, and the ongoing transformation required for success."
Brown said: "Over the past decade, PHD has become one of the most respected agency networks in the industry.
"Its growth, thought leadership and award-winning work is a testament to Mike Cooper’s leadership, and the combined contributions of our many talented people all around the world.
"My job—working with all the PHD offices and our clients—is to now build on the great success that has already been achieved."
Cooper ran PHD for 12 years, expanding the network from 1,200 to 6,000 staff globally. His new appointment followed closely on the departure of Colin Gottlieb, who ran EMEA for 17 years.
Omnicom Media Group has revealed the job changes in a series of announcements over the last 24 hours.
There is no word on Brown’s successor as head of the UK operation, but Omnicom Media Group is expected to make an internal appointment. The company declined to comment.
A stabilising force during a turbulent time
Brown, who starts her new role on 1 July, has been a stabilising force for Omnicom Media Group UK during a turbulent time for the big six media-buying agency groups as some clients have pushed for greater transparency and brought some services in-house.
Group M, Publicis Media, Dentsu Aegis Network, Havas and IPG Media Brands have all changed their UK leader since 2016.
Brown has shown mettle, most notably when Omnicom Media Group UK fought successfully to overturn a decision by Sainsbury’s to move its £115 million (US$150 million) media account from PHD in 2017.
She also displayed toughness when she launched the UK arm of Hearts & Science in 2016 as she closed sister agency M2M and later merged Rocket with the new agency at the start of 2018.
In an interview with Campaign two years ago, Brown said: "Turbulence is the new norm and leadership is about leading through that turbulence"—a lesson she said she had learned from Omnicom University, the company’s management training course in the US.
"I love coaching," she added in the same interview, explaining how she had helped Verica Djurdjevic, then the new chief executive of PHD UK, to structure a plan for her first 60 days and her KPIs. "I’m a big planner," Brown explained.
She was previously a board director at magazine publisher IPC Media, which was then a division of Time Inc and is now known as TI Media. She started her career in agencies at DMB&B and BBH.
Brown is a member of WACL and becomes the first woman to be the global head of an Omnicom media agency.
Few other media agencies have had global female leaders. Examples include Lindsay Pattison, the former global CEO of Maxus, Laura Desmond, the former global CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group, and Christine Removille, the global president of Carat.