Publicis Groupe has recruited Demet Ikiler, one of WPP’s most senior and long-serving executives in Europe, to a new role as its chief operating officer for EMEA.
Ikiler has been at WPP for 23 years, rising to become country chair for WPP in her native Turkey and the chief executive of Group M in EMEA.
She will report to Loris Nold, who was promoted to the new role of EMEA chief executive of Publicis Groupe in September 2022, and will sit on the company’s global management committee – a group of about 20 top leaders.
“Working closely with Nold, Ikiler will focus on creating a joined-up EMEA region, that drives collaboration cross-markets, strengthening connectivity and scaling expertise and capabilities for clients and opportunities for talent,” Publicis Groupe said.
EMEA represents upwards of 25% of global revenue and it is understood that the UK is an area of particular focus for Nold and Ikiler, because it is Publicis Groupe’s biggest market in the region.
Ikiler, like Nold, is expected to spend a significant amount of time in London.
Ikiler said: “It’s a huge pleasure, an honour and a great responsibility to join Publicis Groupe and such a strong team of progressive leaders.
“I really look forward to the opportunity to make an impact and accelerate across a region I know very well when it comes to markets, capabilities and talents. As we partner increasingly closer with our clients to drive business impact, the ability to operate across and leverage a wide variety of assets and skills, at scale, has been a compelling proposition for me.
“I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has been a part of my life and this journey. I am certainly looking forward to delivering more and better, and I am excited about the new chapter ahead of me.”
Ikiler brings some knowledge of Publicis Groupe’s agencies because she worked at Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith in the 1990s – before they became part of the French holding company.
She has also been an advocate for diversity, equality and inclusion and is a vice-president of the United Nations Global Compact, an initiative by business leaders to support the UN’s goals. She leads its diversity and inclusion chapter.
Nold said: "It gives me great pleasure to welcome such an outstanding leader and inspiring person as Demet to the Publicis family. I have been hoping to partner with her for years and cannot envisage a better way to take on our greater ambition for the EMEA region.
“She brings the unique combination of a proven track record in leading clients and operations at scale, as one of the most progressive leaders of the industry, with a thorough understanding of the EMEA ecosystem as well as a passion for equality, diversity and inclusion.
“I know she will be a change agent at Publicis Groupe. Demet and I will work very closely across client solutions, accelerating on capabilities and partnering with our country leaders as we drive even more collaboration and innovation within EMEA region."
Publicis Groupe has previously talked about creating a new tier of leadership for EMEA and other regions to “strengthen the group’s country-led model".
Ikiler’s job move is significant because France’s Publicis Groupe and Britain’s WPP are fierce rivals.
Group M has already filled the vacancy left by her departure, promoting Josh Krichefski to a dual role as CEO of EMEA and UK last week, when Campaign reported that Ikiler had chosen to leave and was expected to take a new role.
There has been no word from WPP on how it plans to fill the Turkey country chair role.
Turkey was one of WPP's first markets to appoint a country manager when Sir Martin Sorrell, the then chief executive, promoted Ikiler in 2013 and she told Campaign Turkey in 2018 of her pride that he “always directed every newly appointed country manager to us” as an example of how to drive integration.